Life Tips and Laughs with Abby
According to Abby Santillana, all you need is red lipstick,a great pair of shoes, and the confidence of a runway model to have a good day. People like my good friend Abby are hard to find. Her style is all encompassing. Her infectious joy for life and vivacious personality instantly make the people she interacts with feel like they’ve never had a bad day in their life! Abby is a merchandising and digital retailing major in here sophomore year at UNT. She is also the fashion coordinator for the Filipino Student Association’s Choreoblock dance team. I sat down with Abby and some Starbucks to chat about her passions, who inspires her, and tacos.
So, what brought you into dancing?
Gosh, what didn’t bring me into dancing? When I was three, I started dancing ballet, and my mom would take me dancing everyday. When I was 10, she wanted me to try something different. She took me to hip hop, and after that first class, I never went to ballet again.
What do you love about it?
Just the movement. The connection to any song that’s playing. I feel like I’m very good at freestyling because there are so many beats in a typical hip hop song, and I love just hitting those beats and getting that technicality. I just love feeling the music.
What would you say is the most important thing dancing has done for you?
I think It has helped me express who I am because I didn’t know who I was, and what I wanted to do. I stopped dancing around my teenage years, but once I started dancing this past year, it really just brought me back to who I am. I feel like I know myself a lot better as a dancer and as a person. That’s what brings me to dancing everyday.
So, why fashion? What made you interested in the fashion industry?
I realized that fashion was my forte, when I went to New York City three years ago during Christmas time. Man, when I saw all those advertisements, the scenery, the lights, and skyscrapers… I remember I was reading a magazine at the time. I just realized, “wow, I’m in New York City, reading a Vogue Magazine. I want to do that!—I want to be able to go to New York, and be apart of the fashion industry to just live my life, live it well, and live it with style.
So, what is your end goal in fashion?
So, right now I am thinking about being a fashion show producer, working at market as a visual merchandiser, or being a buyer. I really like the fashion shows, and how they work. I want to continue learning about them. I am really about the visual aspect of fashion.
What would you say is something you would want to change about the fashion industry?
I would like to see more cultural diversity in the fashion industry. I feel like I am starting to see progress pertaining to models. If I am going to be a fashion show producer, I would want the shows to be diverse in the clothes, themes, and the models that we’re choosing. I think it would be interesting to have a more culturally diverse industry.
I know that you are apart of the Filipino Student Association so, how has being in the fashion program and FSA here at UNT shaped you into who you are?
I think I’m more open minded and adventurous. I’m more of a risk taker. If I get an opportunity, I’m going to go for it, and say “Yes Man!” Back then [in high school] I would get to do something and I would ask questions like “do I have to dress nice? Now, I think “I get to dress nice, get to go out!” I love being at UNT because I have been able to have all of these opportunities.
Tell me about being the fashion coordinator for FSA.
It is a perfect mix of greatness and stress. It is up to me to figure out, what would look good on stage. Can they see all the way from the back? Can they see that yellow patch on the jackets under those bright lights. I really have to think of all of the aspects of anything that the dancers will wear. I always have to think about what will happen if this happens. I love it because I get to create my own little vision of what I want. I see it in my head, and if I can see it happen, I know I can make it happen. Overall, I’m the one that gets to choose how it looks overall. It’s my job to make them look good. The dance is definitely going to look good, but will the dancers look good? That’s my job. Doing this has really helped me to become a leader. This has shown me what it means to become a leader. It helped me learn how to choose the right things, and make decisions because I was afraid at first. Then I realized, “Hey, they picked me for a reason because they know what I can do. They know my background is fashion and they know I can get them a good look. If I go in full confidence, I’ll show them what I can do.
So, how would you describe your style.
I would describe it as very simple. A little bit of femininity, a little bit of edge, but still fun. I want to look confident and amazing at the same time.
What was it like working retail at Shop 112?
Uhh I loved it! It was my first job not working in the family business. My mom forced me to get out there and do something else. So, I used to work at a local boutique back in south Texas for the past two years. It was absolutely the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I got to model for them, I got to style for them, I got to do a fashion show for them. I also was behind the scenes for one of their fashion shows. Because it was a local business, I got to see the manager, model, stylist, merchandiser, buyer, and social media director. I got to see each one of those positions in the store. I think that really helped me with what I want to do, and what I’m interested in doing in the fashion industry.
What is your favorite fashion magazine?
Marie Claire. It’s because of Nina Garcia. I love her! My mom would always read it, and I would always have one. I loved to just see what Nina Garcia is loving, and what her top trends are.
What do you like about Nina?
She is very straightforward. She isn’t afraid to tell you how it is. She has that very unique style to her. I think because she’s Hispanic, my mom and I can relate to her in a certain way. She is very loveable. I think she’s charming. I think she has a good style and keeps it sophisticated and classy, but also has that Latin flare.
Who inspires you in fashion and life?
The first person I thought was my mom. She grew up in Mexico, and came over for a better life just like my dad. When she had me, she dressed me up like I was her doll. When I got into my teenage years, and I got more of an interest in the fashion industry, I would notice my mom and how she would dress herself. She was very simple, but would add a Spanish flare. She would wear her red lipstick, her big stone rings and statement necklaces. She would wear something simple, and then have that pop of color, and an accessory, and she inspires me to do the same. My mom is definitely my biggest inspiration.
Do you have any advice for anyone reading this?
I would say just have confidence! If you’re having a bad day, honey, put on your favorite shoes, and strut as if you’re on a runway. SMIZE BABY, SMIZE. That’s my thing. Smize, strut, and you know, when I’m having a bad day, that’s really what I do. I put on my favorite pair of booties. I go out there, and I strut my stuff. I strut as if I’m on a runway. Just be confident in anything that you do. Once you see something that you like, go for it. Take a chance. Take that opportunity. If you don’t, you might never get that opportunity again. Take it girl, take it!
Abby is someone who will go far in the industry. Her zeal for life and constant positive energy are things I aspire to have always, and will be able to get her extremely far in whatever she decides to set her mind to. I loved getting to sit down with her, and I hope that our readers get even a touch of how special of a soul she is.
Follow Abby on Instagram @abbyandhercurls
Words by Miles Cantrell
Edits by Taylar Gomez, Carolina Gomez, and Maia Wilson
Photography by Michaela Bull