CYNDI RAMIREZ IN NEW YORK, JANUARY 2017. MAKEUP: NARS SOFT MATTE COMPLETE CONCEALER IN BISCUIT.
It’s difficult to pin down Cyndi Ramirez’s career in a single, concise term; as Ramirez herself admits, “my profession is kind of all over the place.” Part-lifestyle blogger, part-professional foodie, and all parts entrepreneur, Ramirez splits her time between keeping up her award-winning fashion-meets-food website Taste The Style and working as a partner (alongside her husband, Adam Fulton) of the creative hospitality team Den Hospitality, which owns NYC eateries The Garrett and Dinner Table. She’s a brilliant brander and true professional for the 21st Century; where others might only see dead ends, she recognizes opportunity in personal interests that, at one time, were seemingly disparate. As a face of Interview x NARS Cosmetics’ “The Art of Throwing Shade,” Ramirez touches on her story of parlaying passion into business and learning how to respond to sexism from her early days in hospitality.
STARTING OUT: Taste The Style came into inception several years ago. I started it as a little restaurant review site—a way for me to recommend places to go to my friends. It was just a little fun project, and I let that go for a few years. All my 20s I spent bartending, waitressing, and modeling and acting as well, figuring out who I was as an individual and where I belonged. I realized that I really loved food, and I actually went to college for fashion marketing. I was like, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if I could mix the two in some way shape or form?” I didn’t really know what that was. I’m not a writer per se, but I consider myself to be someone with good taste and someone that understands lifestyle from a consumer perspective. So I just started playing around with revisiting the site and relaunched it as a personal blog. What made us unique was mixing the two so that it would be about my personal style but also where I like to eat and drink. Fast forward a couple of years, and I had a friend who had a music site that was like, “I’m really trying to put together a network.” I was like, “What the hell is a network?” I didn’t know anything about media. He was like, “It’s like a mother company for different sites, and I want people to be a part of it, but it can’t be a blog. It has to be a website.” He gave me an example and I was like, “Awesome. Got it.” [laughs] That’s when I pivoted the site to be more of a lifestyle website and brought on contributors and writers. It’s become this platform mostly for women that are curious about hospitality, style, beauty, travel, and other culture-based content as well. Simultaneously, my husband was opening up his first bar around the time that I was creating my career. I was like, “Obviously I’ve been in hospitality my whole life, and I’d love to contribute in any way I can. I have a bit of a branding background now.” So he made me a partner. I’m actually opening up my first hospitality business in March, which is going to be a cafe-spa concept on the Lower East Side called Chill House. We’re trying to disrupt the spa industry, make it more approachable; I wanted to create an alternative for people who want to feel a quick peace of mind without having it be a big to-do. We’ll have a wellness cafe in the front of the property, and manicures with a nail art component.
ON SEXISM: I’m the daughter of an entrepreneur, and my mom has been a solo business owner since before I was born. She came here with very little money, and she actually has a medi-spa. I’ve always been raised watching her growing these business and navigating being a single mother. I’ve been working in bars and restaurants since I was 17. Growing up in the hospitality industry, I’ve faced a lot of sexism, and unfortunately if you don’t hold your ground and have a little sass, there’s a good possibility that they’ll walk all over you. I’ve always made sure that the men in that industry didn’t look down to me and didn’t disrespect me in any way. And if they did, I always either rebelled or just left. It’s more about positioning yourself in a way where they’ll never treat you that way—you have to be stern in your demeanor. So I feel like I’ve maintained that. My first job job was for a woman that I’ll consider my mentor till I die. She’s amazing, and she had this term “the velvet hammer,” which kind of stuck with me. It was a fashion-tech consultancy. We worked with a lot of men trying to start these start-ups, and a lot of time we’d meet with these investors because we wanted to connect them to our clients. Seeing how men behave in the tech space was eye-opening, and showing that you’re intelligent and understand technology is something that helped us in not allowing us to be put in those situations where we felt like men were putting us down. I now have male business partners, like my husband, and I try to maintain that professionalism. “Don’t make me feel like I have to be quiet about a situation because I may not be knowledgable in it.” These are conversations that we’ve had to have raising money for Chill House. It’s okay to be curious, and okay to be in a room of men who all seemingly have their shit together, and I may not understand what they’re talking about. It’s okay to be like, “Hey, can someone explain that to me?” That’s what I want to continue doing in situations where I’m the only woman.
FEELING EMPOWERED: Being a woman is really empowering right now. It’s a really crazy time to be a woman, obviously, with the election. I think we’re all in this unified state of shock, and that in itself is very empowering, knowing that you have so many women that are on the same side as you from all different backgrounds and all different career levels. This is a time right now where you can be whoever you want to be. We’re all like, “Alright, let’s not be catty, let’s be adults about all of our conversations. Let’s all realize that we have to do this together, because it doesn’t feel like we really have our country on our side anymore.” I think that is the one thing that’s making me feel empowered, the fact that I have such a strong community of women around me that support me. There’s nothing more amazing than feeling like people actually care what you’re doing, and it’s mostly women in my case.
BEAUTY AND CONFIDENCE: For me, style 100 percent plays into how I carry myself in a room or a meeting, and how I choose to start my day. If I want to have a very relaxed day, I’m going to wear nothing special; I’m not going to have any jewelry on. For the most part, every day I wake up and try to look and feel my best, and the way to do that is to throw on clothes that make me feel good and have my beauty process, which is one that I feel has helped me maintain a certain level of confidence when it comes to how I’m perceived. At the end of the day, it all plays into your personal brand and how people take you seriously with your career. It really does shape who you are as a person, how you put yourself together.
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