I’d like to introduce you to Sacramento’s next ‘#GIRLBOSS’, designer and entrepreneur Stina Faye. You might recognize her as co-creator of the very popular High Standards custom denim shorts, started in 2011. Remember those? I still got mine!
Since ending the business in 2014, Stina rediscovered her niche and has recently launched her newest venture, ByStinaFaye. Over the past few years, I’ve watched Stina transform from a social media mogul (ah, the MySpace days) and blossom into a well-versed designer/entrepreneur. It’s no surprise that her favorite book is Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS, because she’s well on her way to success and queendom.
Peep my interview with Stina Faye below.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Thinker. Goofy. Passionate.
I can vouch for her on the “goofy” part, lol.
Pizza or tacos?
Tacos all day.
Tell me one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m a lot nerdier than people presume. I think spending half my life in front of a computer screen may be the reason for my endless amount of useless facts that I spew out at my friends or my ability to troubleshoot technology behind my wide framed glasses that I’m constantly pushing up my nose Monday-Friday 🙂
If you could give your teenage self advice, what would you say?
NONE OF THE THINGS YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT ARE GOING TO MATTER 10 YEARS FROM NOW. *drops mic*
Boom. Got ’em.
How would you describe your design style/aesthetic?
Definitely very feminine. If you’re a girly-girl, you’ll probably be drawn to my work. I try not to limit myself to one style only and can dabble in just about anything. But if you have a girly vision I’m definitely going to be able to deliver it.
What’s the biggest challenge you currently face as an entrepreneur?
My biggest challenge right now has honestly been maintaining confidence in myself. I keep having these moments where I doubt my abilities to do something then end up surprising myself when I pull it off.
What made you get into graphic design?
My journey began back in 2004 when social media started becoming a thing. The most important parts of my days at that time were keeping my Sims characters alive and creating image blends of my favorite celebrities and music quotes on Paint Shop Pro to share on my Xanga and design forums. As we evolved into MySpace, I started learning how to edit my photos to make them stand out from the rest. I took web and graphic design courses in high school and learned how to use Adobe Design programs, and HTML, which of course helped with my MySpace layout skills. I didn’t get out much during my teen years and spent A LOT of time time online. I somehow became some mythical creature from MySpace that no one ever saw in real life but everyone had on their friends list.
She’s right. I was “friends” with Stina on MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter for a solid four years before we met and became friends IRL.
I had plans to go to the Art Institute in San Francisco for Graphic Design after high school but I chickened out and withdrew before I started. I was a little lost—like most after high school. Having interests in writing, design, and fashion had me wanting to find a way to dip my hands into all things at once. I started out at community college taking journalism, hoping to write for a fashion magazine one day…that didn’t last long. I focused on my GE and kind of floated around for a while. I definitely went to college long enough to have a degree but just came out with a bunch of knowledge instead lol!
How did High Standards come to be?
One summer in 2011, my friends & I took a trip to a thrift store in search of high-waisted jeans to turn into cut-offs so we wouldn’t have to pay full price for a pair (some were selling for $100+ on eBay at this time). We bought studs, scissors, denim and went to work. After we completed our creations, we stood back and realized we could make a business out of this. I posted the first pair of shorts that they created on social media and got a little buzz. From there, I created a Facebook page for us to reach a broader audience, took pictures of our products, reached out to “Tumblr famous” girls for promotion, my partner came up with the clever name “High Standards” and that’s where it all began.
As our popularity surged through social media, we were getting noticed by models like Justene Jaro and Jessica Burciaga which really helped us take off. We were getting more orders than our own two pairs of hands could handle and would sell out quicker than we could restock. It was a good problem to have, but still a problem. I was always the business-minded one who was in charge of our graphics, website, customer service, finances, and of course, creating shorts simultaneously. I didn’t mind the workload, I guess I enjoy being in control. My partner was more of the hands-on type and was really efficient at getting shorts done. At the time, I was also taking classes in fashion, not for a degree but to pick up new skills. I took Fashion Entrepreneurship, Fashion Illustration, and Apparel Construction just to soak up as much information and skills as I could.
Why did you decide to end business at High Standards?
Over time, high waisted shorts slowly saturated the mainstream markets. We were no longer competing with other indie brands on ‘who can come up with the most creative designs’, but having to compete with commercial retailers like Forever 21, who about 2 years later caught up to what we were doing and were completing ripping indie brand designs off. It was very difficult to compete with factory made shorts for $19.99 when our time and pieces were valued so much more than that. The vintage denim was getting harder to find, our sales were dropping, and my business partner was about to have a baby! While we had an amazing 3 year run, the best business decision ultimately became to close down shop. I spent a little over a year after High Standards in a total creative slump. I was trying my hardest to figure out what’s next — I was going to go crazy if I had to settle for a 9-5 after I spent the past 3 years dreaming and scheming on how to be a self-made entrepreneur. I felt like I had failed and thinking of High Standards was very painful for me.
How did you get yourself out of that creative slump?
After many months of trying new things and attempting to figure out my path, I found my way back to design. My former business partner and close friend, Kayla, had her beautiful baby girl and asked me if I could design thank you cards for her baptism. I happily obliged and was impressed with my work. Of course, a light bulb went off in my head—everyone I know is having babies & getting married, I have the perfect business model!
From that point (a little over 6 months ago), I was inspired to refine my skills and get back to my graphic design roots. It’s really funny how everything ends up coming full circle in life. Now I’m focusing a lot of my time on customizing my clients events and branding small businesses and individuals and feel so content with my purpose again. I no longer look back at High Standards as something I failed at and instead view it as a needed experience that got me closer to my craft today.
What advice would you give a young woman looking to start her own business?
Definitely do your research. Get to know not only your market, but your competition. Learn about taxes! Taxes had me so stressed out — I learned a lot as I went along, but I wish I knew more before I started. Stay on top of your finances, don’t keep your entire revenue as profit for yourself. It’s important to put the money you’re earning back into your business (a significant amount at that) before you can claim a profit. And most importantly, don’t doubt yourself and don’t be down on yourself when things don’t pan out perfectly. If you believe you can reach your goals and you’re willing to put in the work and sacrifice, it’s always going to be possible.
What does being a #BetterGirl mean to you?
Being a #BetterGirl means persevering through all the curveballs that life has to throw at us and still finding the strength to come out on top. When I think of a ‘Better Girl‘, I think she’s fierce, she’s a hustler, and she’s ambitious. The lovely ladies behind #BetterGirls and the amazing women they have featured are so inspiring, so this is an honor to me. Thanks for the opportunity to spark a fire inside of others with my story!