Quick Q&A with Emily Byrski
By: Kim Lalaurie
Emily Byrski is a micro influencer who’s positive attitude and candy colored blog empirestyleofmind.com is filled with posts from a young woman taking on the world, one adventure at a time. This includes a recent Instagram documented trip around Europe and her “New Girl in the City” discovery of New York City.
Byrski, who is a native of Florida, recently graduated with a degree in Marketing of Sustainable Fashion from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. And it is interesting to watch how her style is starting to evolve from sun kissed preppy to something with a bit more of an urban edge as the Big Apple gives her wardrobe more of a sartorial bite.
Here she opens up about the powerful women in her life who have showed her that having drive and ambition are a good thing, why the designer Pamella Rolland holds a special place in her heart and how traveling the globe for inspiration is her ever evolving happy place.
How did you first get interested in fashion?
I’ve always been a very visual and creative person my whole life and fashion is such a fascinating form of self-expression. One day I could wear ripped jeans and an ironic tee and personify one thing and the next I could wear a silk gown and fur coat and personify something entirely different. There’s something really empowering about that. Though I’d always enjoyed reading fashion magazines and paid attention to them, it wasn’t until high school that I really started to make a concerted effort to define myself through clothing. For awhile I was “scene,” then I was “hipster,” and eventually I decided I liked “preppy” and began wearing all the Ralph Lauren and Lilly Pulitzer I could find. But fashion is one of those things that permeates throughout society. Coco Chanel said, “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” I think this could not be more true.
What made you finally decide to launch out on your own?
I think with my personality it was always inevitable. I worked 7 different internships in college, all of which were fine and most of which I actually enjoyed, but I was always ready for the next thing and left each having gained both a ton of valuable knowledge and skills and also an absolute certainty that I wouldn’t want to do that for more than the allotted 4-5 months. Around the time I was graduating in May, the very thought of a 9-to-5 cubicled existence sent me into a spiral of depression. I’d applied to dozens of positions, none of which I was really interested in. Yet I had been working more and more seriously on my blog and on my work as a photographer throughout my time in college and I thought, I should really just do what I want to do on my own. It just sort of made sense and fell into place and the stars aligned and here I am.
What was your big break?
I’m not sure I’ve found my “big break” yet and I’m still figuring a lot of things out. But a really exciting moment recently was the feeling of receiving my first personal fashion week invite. I’ve been attending fashion week events almost every season for the past four years, but always in varying capacities—either as a photographer with a press pass, using someone else’s invite when they couldn’t attend, or for work. This was the first season that I received an invite to a show myself. And it was wonderfully full circle as one of the first shows I ever attended, back in the day as a photographer for my school newspaper crouching in the pit, was Pamella Roland. And four years later the first invite I ever got was to none other than Pamella Roland. It just felt like one of those “look at how far I’ve come” moments.
Who inspires you?
My mom is amazing, as is my grandma. They are two of the strongest, most loving, most badass women I know. My mom raised me on her own from the get go and as a single parent still worked a full-time job and went to law school at night to earn her degree. She’s now a successful businesswoman and owns her own practice. My grandma left home at 16 and began working as a caretaker and hustling to make it on her own, then raised three kids on her own after her husband died. My family has a pretty great line of awesome independent women. They have been incredibly supportive of me in every endeavor I ever pursue and I know I can always count on them for anything.
Who living or dead would you love to be able to have dinner with?
Dead, I think Queen Elizabeth I would be fascinating or Catherine de Medici—some really incredible boss woman from the past who didn’t let no man get her way. Alive, the first person that comes to mind is Emma Watson because I think she and I share a lot of the same values and she just seems like a genuinely cool woman.
What is your favorite trip?
I travel a lot… A lot, a lot. So it’s really hard to name just one trip as my favorite. But so far I’d say my top three favorite trips have been to South Africa, Tahiti and Bora Bora (French Polynesia), and to Costa Rica. I also loved Morocco and New Zealand. I also loved the couple of European road trips I’ve done the past couple of summers… But actually, I really like to push myself past my comfort zone and I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so the trips I’ve generally enjoyed the most are those that are the most exotic and adventurous.
When are you happiest?
I am happiest when traveling and exploring new places and learning new things. Travel is constantly stimulating and always worth the experience. On the flip side, I am so content when I’m home in Florida with my dog, relaxing and being lazy. It’s all about balance.
What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing?
I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads in terms of which of my passions I want to pursue more fully than the others. Part of me wants to pour my efforts into my blog and make my brand and content the best it can be and another part of me loves working as a photographer and writer and wants to get more assignments and work on more large projects. And of course I would love to do both, but I think each requires an intense amount of focus that while not negating the other, certainly takes time away that could be spent being the best at one.
What is your secret talent (something you are good at or can do that people might not know)?
It’s kind of a boring answer and maybe not that secret but I love to cook and bake. I have had friends rave about my quinoa tacos. Another thing is that I grew up riding horses and competing. We even owned three horses at one point by accident (that’s a long story). I sadly had to stop riding and sell my horse when I started at NYU because it’s a little hard to coordinate riding in the middle of Manhattan and I never really had time to commute outside the city. I miss it all the time though.
What is your motto or the best piece of advice you ever got?
I often tell people my motto is “I’d rather be better busy than bored” and I think this holds true as I try to fill my time up as much as possible. I get the worst FOMO and I want to be constantly involved in just about everything, so I say yes often. Maybe too often, but hey, better busy than bored!
What emoji do you use the most?
I use the upside down smiley face a lot and the shrugging girl 🤷🏼♀️
What is the latest Instagram feed you decided to follow?
A couple of accounts I’ve recently followed are @tourdelust for her gorgeous wanderlust travel feed that makes me wish I were off galavanting around the world too and @yarashahidi because she is doing some incredible things advocating for women right now and I think she’s a great mix of fierce and hilarious!