In the celebratory aftermath of being named one of Who What Wear’s top 20 tastemakers under 30, Erica Choi, digital art director for Barneys New York and self-proclaimed East Coast girl, admits to more than a few fashion faux pas while growing up in her home state of New Jersey. And even though oversized jeans, Timberland boots, bandanas and, shockingly, not a single article of black clothing were her go-tos back then, over the years Erica has learned to hone her personal style and become an influencer at one of the most sophisticated and well-known brands in the luxury market. “I've always loved aspirational fashion—creating looks in my head and drawing inspiration from others,” said Erica. “Having the ability to influence is a very flattering and humbling experience, and I see this as an opportunity to use my skills in a special way.”
A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Erica has been navigating creative avenues like Photoshop and Dreamweaver for as long as she can remember—even sneaking onto AOL during its formative years in order to explore this new thing called the Internet. Now, this not-so-novel idea of the World Wide Web is Erica’s professional playground. As the digital art director at Barneys New York, she has combined her passions for fashion, beauty and lifestyle into one of the most successful website redesigns that the department store has seen. “Like many other people in my field, and especially in my age group, I wear multiple hats,” said Erica. “I’m an art director and graphic designer, however I dabble in and have become extremely passionate about photography and content creation, which, as a visual person, ties everything together for me.”
And while her career is taking off in a big way, Erica’s personal journey is not too far behind. With a finely curated Instagram account that has more than 277k followers it is clear that her aesthetic is highly sought after around the world. Between her hectic and constant work schedule and jaunts to far-away places like Santorini, we were able to gain insight into Erica’s beautiful life by learning about her travel must-haves, Barneys expereince and the one possession she can’t live without.
Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue Australia, and Thrillist named @eggcanvas a must-follow on Instagram. Why is your audience interested in the content you post?
My content is relatable while at the same time inspirational and aspirational. That balance is imperative to me, and I see it as a major factor that keeps me going and striving for better. The biggest thing coming out of all of this is seeing myself grow. There's no other feeling like it; it is so rewarding. I have a wide-ranging audience that includes different people of all ages and backgrounds who take in the content in various ways.
Any tips for acquiring a loyal following?
Only post what you find to be interesting. I always seek to make everything the best quality—the same way I am with my design work. Having a design background and developing an eye over many years has helped with creating a strong composition, making colors work together and playing with light. It takes work and time, but as long as you have a vision, it will translate and people will respond.
It seems like every few weeks there is a new, delicious photo of ice cream on your Instagram. What is the best ice cream in New York City?
Ice cream is one of my favorite foods and one of my favorite things to photograph. I'm actually more of a salty/savory person, but when it comes to ice cream I can have it every day—in different flavors please! My favorites in New York City are Momofuku Milk Bar, Van Leeuwen, Grom, and Morgenstern’s.
Your blog features a lot of beautiful travel photography from Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Spain, Miami and Palm Springs. What are your top five travel essentials?
An Anker battery pack, Sony a7R II camera, Dr. Jart sheet masks, Janessa Leone straw hat, and soft slip-on shoes (my current favorites are the suede Isabel Marant loafers).
You mention on your blog that art plays a big role in your life. What is your relationship with the arts?
I've taken flute, art and drawing classes since I was six or seven, which is pretty much the norm for Asian children—that and piano lessons. I actually almost majored in flute in college, but the last three years of high school I took intensive portfolio lessons so I could get into art school. I love the history of art and all of the values that surround the arts, as well as exploring museums, and basking in the architecture when traveling to foreign countries.
How would you describe your design/visual aesthetic?
Very minimal with tons of white space. I enjoy coming up with simple, easy-to-understand design solutions that are rich in experience and allow the user to explore and process on their own.
How does New York City inspire you?
I’m inspired by the boundless opportunities. This city contains content unlike anywhere else in the world. The people are incredible—talented and passionate, with a sense of self and individualism—and they are here to make an impact. It is a melting pot where you never know what you will find.
It does get overwhelming at times, but New York City is the only place where you never stop learning. I think feeling very small can be gratifying as it pushes you and allows you to accomplish what you set out to do.
What is it like to work for Barneys?
It's been an extremely rewarding experience to work for a company with such a strong heritage and presence in the design, fashion, and commerce world. Our teams are intimate, so it allows us to be very hands-on with what we do, which is rare when you work in-house.
Proudest moment while working at Barneys?
While here, I have taken on the biggest project of my life—redesigning and launching barneys.com, barneyswarehouse.comand thewindow.barneys.com. Every time we push a new section or feature live, even if it is something aesthetically small, it brings me joy to see the work of my team come alive.
How do you keep such an established brand feeling new?
From the fashion industry to the design industry to the tech industry, I’m always aware of what’s going on. The world is moving faster every day, and it is my job to keep up with those trends in order to keep Barneys feeling fresh, while at the same time preserving the integrity of the brand.
Oribe is sold at Barneys and on barneys.com. Why do you think Oribe and Barneys is such a perfect match?
Both brands are modern leaders in their craft and industry.
What is one fashion statement that will never go out of style?
Wearing all black!
What is your summertime skin routine?
A fine mist toner, serum, and light moisturizer. When I'm going out, I opt for a light and easy foundation cushion compact with a high level of SPF.
What’s your secret for keeping your extremely fine, straight hair healthy?
I have been balayaging the ends of my hair for the past year, so to maintain my ashy color I alternate between Shampoo and Conditioner for Beautiful Color and Bright Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner for Beautiful Color. I also use the Signature Moisture Masque once a week and apply Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil to my tips after every wash.
What is your favorite Oribe product and how do you use it?
My stylist Luis Payne used Matte Waves Texture Lotion on my hair during my last visit, and it's my new favorite product. It gives my super-fine hair the perfect amount of texture and grit without making it sticky.
Trend you are most excited to rock this summer?
Embroidered-inspired pieces from Ulla Johnson and Nili Lotan. These looks will make me feel like I'm on holiday even in the steamy, concrete jungle.
Most luxurious possession you can’t live without?
Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray for protecting my hair and keeping it healthy.
Beautiful Color$15.00 - $141.00Quick
Beautiful Color$16.00 - $161.00Quick
Bright Blonde Shampoo for
Bright Blonde Conditioner
for Beautiful Color$48.00Quick
Nourishing Hair Oil$38.00 - $55.00Quick
Royal Blowout Heat