SEEN sat down with the ever so stylish Christina Chen, marketing director of Shinola, to find out more about her career journey and favorite products from Shinola.
By Rachel Schostak
Photography Hayden Stinebaugh
1. Tell us about yourself. I joined Shinola in January 2016, bringing 12 years of communications and marketing experience to the brand – leading teams from luxury brands such as Alexander Wang and Yves Saint Laurent on establishing global communication programs and branding initiatives. At Shinola, I work to continue building Shinola into an American design and lifestyle brand through creative storytelling and innovative marketing initiatives.
2. Can you share how you got started in the fashion industry? I knew at a very young age that I wanted to work in the fashion industry, after realizing that I didn’t want to become an architect. While I was attending Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business, I lived in New York City in the summers and was lucky enough to be a part of Donna Karan’s design team and Gucci’s PR team. These experiences changed my life and solidified my move to New York after graduation.
3. What are some career highlights? There are too many to name. It ranges from dressing celebrities and musicians to planning high-profile events to getting a full look on the cover of a magazine. I am really most proud of all of my accomplishments throughout my career – good and bad!
4. How long have you worked at Shinola, and what do you love most about your job? I have been in Detroit and working at Shinola for two years. I love working with my team, meeting new people and building relationships. I’m grateful to be surrounded by the most passionate and creative teams every single day.
5. Can you share one of your most favorite projects you’ve recently worked on? Universal Music Group’s Grammy Artist Village. I was lucky enough to showcase Shinola Audio products to Grammy-nominated UMG artists and producers. The most rewarding part is introducing new people not only to Shinola Audio, but also bringing awareness to all Shinola product categories — leather, watches, jewelry, etc. And now these musicians are all huge fans!
6. Current products you are loving? Our new watch called The Canfield Sport. I usually wear the same Canfield 43mm watch every day and am excited to wear a sexier, elevated version.
The new bag called Cass Tote. I tend to carry my life in one bag. You never know what you’ll need!
The Coin Edge Signet ring in gold. I love that you can personalize the ring by monogramming it.
The Crescent Dome ring in gold. I love how understated it is. I layer it with my everyday rings. It goes with everything!
7. Must-have item from Shinola? The Canfield Sport watch. Both men’s and women’s styles are beautiful and versatile. Everyone needs to wear this watch!
8. Who inspires you in the business world? My mother and Uncle George. They are the hardest working small business owners I have ever met. I owe my dedication, values, honesty and work ethic to them. I get my entrepreneurial spirit from my father too.
Detroit/Metro Detroit local love list – some of your favs…
9. Are you a native Detroiter? What do you love most about our community? I’m originally from Pittsburgh, but I like to think I’m a New Yorker at heart, since I spent my childhood and 20s there.
When people ask me about Detroit, so many words come to mind, but a few stand out: grit, soul, pride and loyalty. I came from a blue-collar steel town but one that was a fraction of the size of Detroit. There’s so much history here, and I didn’t think I would feel such a strong connection to the city, while experiencing the city’s revitalization and redevelopment. I’ve always had the Midwest soul of not forgetting where you came from and things that make you who you are. I didn’t realize how deep-rooted music is within this city until I lived here. There is always something going on in Detroit and on the weekends.
10. Your go-to for breakfast, lunch and dinner? I love breakfast, and I can’t pick one spot! Select go-to places include Rose’s Fine Food, Clique or Le Petit Dejeuner. For lunch, Selden Standard, and for dinner Flowers of Vietnam.
11. What’s a highlight of living in Metro Detroit? Having just moved with my husband to a new neighborhood, I love the close proximity to Detroit and being close to Lake St. Clair. Add in all of the parks, surrounding homes that all have their own unique character, and the neighborhood trolley (yep, a trolley with a disco ball…). I feel grateful to call this area “home.”
Now onto style…
12. Head-to-toe outfit details of what you’re wearing? Yves Saint Laurent sheer black trench coat (shop similar), Ganni leopard silk dress layered over a vintage black T-shirt dress (shop similar), Nike Air Max, Shinola personalized rings, Shinola bolt necklace, personal necklaces, Celine knot bracelet and Shinola Canfield Sport watch.
13. Three words to describe your style? Casual, edgy and masculine.
14. One item you can’t leave home without? Chapstick. Happy to leave my phone at home any day.
15. You’re never fully dressed without _____ My rings.
16. Your current must-have item? My Shinola black alligator mini shopper tote.
17. Your most cherished item in your closet? My vintage Bob Marley T-shirt and vintage Chanel earrings.
18. Do you have a style icon? My grandmother. She killed it with her jewelry back in the day.
19. Who or what inspires your style? I’m inspired by my friends, new and old, even by a stranger walking down the street. I dress the way I feel in that moment and for myself.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? I have a few… “work hard, play hard,” “less is more” and “thoughts become things.”