The Unexpected Sentimentalist- an interview with Roza Sinaysky
By Chava Kuchar
So I met Roza Sinaysky in Tel Aviv, at a cute vegan café whose food was good, but not worthy enough to warrant the 3 hours we spent together on that incredibly warm afternoon. As the stream of customers continued to flood in, I got the distinct impression that Roza would have quite comfortably continued to sit with me for many more hours answering my endless questions and generously sharing her vast knowledge on all things fashion, blogging and networking.
How to describe Roza Sinaysky? Roza wears many hats- literally and figuratively. She is a seasoned fashion editor, stylist, brand consultant & ambassador and woman about town and at the top of her game. Roza is also refined, classy and ladylike. So ladylike in fact, that when I asked her to share with us what was in her bag I half expected that she would shut me down with a ‘what’s in a lady’s purse stays in a lady’s purse’ or something along those lines. Instead, she slapped her Prada canvas clutch on the table and apologized because it wasn’t “very interesting” and then proceeded to pull out 2 ATA Kovah Temble hats (an iconic Israeli costume, generally associated with the kibbutz movement), some personalized stationary and a cheque book. If this isn’t the perfect metaphor for the unexpected and authentic delight that is Roza then I am not sure what is.
Roza, Roza, Roooooozzzza (roll the R when you say it and sing it with me again!)
Chava Kuchar: Roza Sinaysky- pronounce?
Rosa Sinaysky: Sinay + skee (pronounced sky), it’s Sinay, like Mount Sinai with a ‘skee’ at the end. It’s a common traditional Jewish Russian surname.
CK: Who were you named after?
RS: Named after great grandmother, she was funny, she was small also, but I was always told that she was naughty and a little childish and passed away a few months before born. With one son, Daniel, my mother always knew she wanted a daughter. It is spelt Roza with a Z, which is Russian as opposed with an S, which is more Italian or Spanish.
CK: Moody Roza- where did this nickname come from? It’s hard to believe that you are moody enough to have inherited the moniker, or is it a Tiny Tim metaphor?
RS: I worked for Vogue in London, 2010, while I was studying fashion, I had this obsession to create mood boards. And every time there was a production I would always rush to make a mood board for it or for a project at college I would spend my time making the mood boards about the collection instead of the actual collection. I created a whole book of collages of sentences and drawings.
CK: What’s your process when you create Mood boards?
RS: I start with one or two words and then I envision that and it starts to be this whole thing in my head and then it builds, it’s a really interesting process. It’s how I start with everything.
On authenticity, Feminism and first impressions
CK: You seem to do a little of everything? We were discussing the creative director side of you and the fashion blogger side of you- can you summarize your work life balance? If you have one?
RS: Absolute chaos, no strategy. Just kidding. Its just me, I am not two people, I am that person, I am a story teller, I am that person on Instagram, its isn’t a lie, how I dress in life is what you see on my feed…this persona that is born on Instagram is (can be) fake, for some it’s a lie.
CK: Do you find it problematic?
RS: It’s not problematic, but personally for me, it’s just that I want to be as authentic as I can. If you are in the front of the camera and have a persona it can be confusing, because people see you a certain way and think things about you. But I think you can be yourself and I am personally very private and carefully curate what I show, so I think I am a little mysterious and people don’t always know what is the deal is with me and so they think things about you because you don’t show it or don’t share it- people are always asking me who is my husband or father because I am private.
CK: Are they asking because they are wondering who is funding you?
RS: Yes, for sure, they have this misconception because I don’t share anything private. They ask who is your husband, like its crystal clear to them that someone is funding me and I am just this girl being looked after. But I am the the husband, I am the father, I am the mother, I am all of it. It’s about balancing what you show, what people think of you and who you are and then there what you are doing behind the scene, all the commercials, events, consulting and all of these other things are not really talked about.
I also don’t want to have all of my Instagram and blog to be about me- I am just the story teller, telling you where to eat, where to stay, what to do, because I can, because of my expertise and my experience I can do this. And everything I do is to promote young designers.
CK: Why is it about the young designers?
RS: Because they don’t get the chance to shine, or because they don’t have the funds to promote or access to influencers. I can help them.
CK: How old are you?
RS: I am 34…write down ‘old cat lady’
CK: Effectively you could have been a young designer and here you are promoting young designers. Do you ever wish you pursued fashion?
RS: No, not at all, I evolved.
CK: How so?
RS: My last year in London was hard- I was mugged. I was injured pretty badly physically and it was emotionally traumatic and I had PTSD and I wanted my mummy (she laughed, I think at the idea of her wanting her ‘mummy’, but uncomfortably so not to detract from the seriousness of the event). I came back here for a holiday and stayed.
CK: So you chose to come home to a place many deem more unsafe than London. Do you ever think of that or have any thoughts on it?
RS: Interesting question! Tel Aviv is the safest place on the planet for me, I feel much safer here than anywhere else in Europe and definitely more than NYC. The crime rate here is close to zero and to be honest I feel hashgacha (G-d’s presence/ supervision) more here than anywhere else.
CK: What do you prefer? The styling? The journalism or the digital side of the industry?
RS: Styling, creative consulting and directing, all of it. When it’s for my blog it’s just me and my photographer coming up with the concept and design, whereas in the bigger productions there is a creative director, stylist, photographer.
CK: The scene isn’t getting too small?
RS: It used to scare me, like it was a turn off but now I like it because I am able to shine brighter… I am on top of my field now, so it’s nice, I made that choice, instead of staying someone s assistant on a bigger scale, I made a brand for myself, I built a name for myself.
CK: And when working with other creatives does ego com into it?
RS: The ego issue, I have a Rabbi who helps me with that but I don’t really have an ego because I am confident in myself, in my abilities. If I have a problem I am not worried because I know how to overcome a problem, I can pick up the phone and call anyone and they will help me within minutes. It gives me confidence to know the industry and I don’t need to introduce myself anymore, it’s nice.
CK: So I dug deep on google and there is not a photo of you without short hair? Were you born this way?
RS: It’s true, there is no evidence. I cut it in tenth grade, grew it for a minute in 2004/5 and then I got a pixie cut and never grew it again.
CK: Tell us the evolution story of Roza Sinaysky? Where were you born, grew up, studied, interned, favorite job, what are you doing now? Where do you want to go moving forward?
RS: I was born in Kiev, in Ukraine, but it was USSR, so that means it was the same as Moscow. I am so glad I lived through it, because I lived through communist times and I remember all of it super clearly, like I was in school and I was a Russian pioneer and I remember all of the traditions. We stayed until 1991, until I was 8 years old and we moved to Israel to Petach Tikvah (Central Israel) and then Carmiel (Northern Israel) and after the army I went straight to London. Unfortunately, in London I was mugged and I came back here, started the blog and the rest is history.
CK: Your fashion style seems to transcend trends, stylish and elegant- how would you describe your style?
RS: It’s an evolution, my style is changing every year according to my experiences and according to my bank account. I stopped buying mass market pieces, I don’t even walk into these places anymore because I am overwhelmed by how many things I have bought and how much I have given away. The older I get the more I want a wardrobe that is sentimental, where each outfit will have a story, like this is from that time… or, this is from the place…an eclectic mix of sentimental pieces mixed with high end.
I find it hard to wear jeans and Tshirt because I feel like a teenage boy. I am petite and have short hair and I want to look feminine and stay classy and modest because lately I am starting to stay covered a lot more. This is the way I am starting to feel more comfortable.
CK: Why do you think that is? Because that Rabbi (I was telling you about) has helped open up the idea of modesty to me. I am Russian, so I know all the things about short skirts and high heels and I am so not there. You want to invest in things, you want to buy something that you will want to wear in a decade and not get rid of it.
Also I have this beautiful friend Lauren (@lklevison) in America, whose wardrobe is one of the largest couture collection in USA and after you see a wardrobe like that how can you go into H&M?! And then there’s Zara, ("you know Zara", I do know Zara, @Alexandrovazara), when you hang out with these girls you can’t be ok to wear jeans and a t-shirt. I need to dress accordingly.
CK: What has been a recent professional highlight?
RS: Last year I was honored by UCLA and a hospitality magazine who gave me an award for influencer of the year.
CK: When we were visiting the showrooms at fashion week there was label called Moi- you said it referred to your childhood in Russia? Can you explain this more- Where did you grow up? Tell us a bit about it...
RS: Moi means mine in Russian and the designer is Ilana and of course she is also Russian. Its Post-Soviet fashion, it’s very trendy right now, this is how my brother used to dress in the Soviet Union and so it’s funny to me to see these Russian logos and these styles, because it reminds me of the 80’s so much. It’s so funny because the designer’s designing these were born into the 90’s so to them it’s vintage. I am like why would I want to look like my little brother?!
CK: Can you tell us about some of your projects this coming year?
RS: I am working on an event in New York, it will bring Israeli food and fashion together and there are some fabulous Israeli women creators working with me and an New York company called Mekomi (Hebrew for local). They are a fun company who run events for expat Israeli in NY. This is my big big project this coming year, probably for about 3 days and we want to do it really well so that maybe we can take it to Miami and LA and service the Jewish and Israeli community. I (will also) be working with the Vancouver Fashion Week team and with The Global Fashion collective. I will also be brining designers and labels from Eastern Europe to show at events during New York and Tokyo fashion weeks,
CK: Israel; what can you tell us about it that others don’t know?
RS: Ahhh, so many things. I am actually still discovering things every day and I am starting to understand that everything here is quite hidden, tucked away and it isn’t so easy to become aware or get involved. It is more hidden than I thought, people are more private and so often people come here for the first time and think there isn’t anything, but you just need to know someone who will show you. It isn’t what it seems. Like, there isn’t one thing I am missing here, everything is here. Israel has so much to offer, you need to just stop complaining and grab it and create it, it’s a young country and you have an opportunity to create something. In every field, it is growing and developing. If I didn’t travel a lot I think I would feel a little claustrophobic, but because I do I love coming home.
To continue to the next installment of our interview- 5 more minutes with Roza, follow the link here