If there’s one thing that I love about blogging more than anything else, it’s been the opportunity to connect with fellow creatives. Sharing the same ambition and drive for what we do has brought some incredible people into my life and has made me re-evaluate why I do what I do. Christina is the perfect example of that. The owner and founder of Chi Flo Apparel, Christina is an entrepreneur with more passion for what she does than anyone I’ve ever known. After talking to her, you can tell that she fully embraces Chi Flo, which is the balance of art and apparel. I had the chance to pick Christina’s brain and get to know her and the brand a bit more. It was a pleasure and I hope you all feel as empowered after reading this Q&A as I did.
1) Tell us about yourself.
My name is Christina Auricchio and my friends call me Stina, hence the name ‘Chi Flo Stina’. I love music, shows, art, fashion, film, photography, writing, and DOGS <3. I own the clothing company, Chi Flo, and do a ton of other side work that enhances my brand. This includes blogging, social media for myself and other companies, graphic design, writing, and occasional photo work. I also love to model on the side, style the clothing, and come up with cool photo concepts. This is a hobby that I was lucky enough to experience due to Chi Flo, having met a ton of talented photographers willing to do fun photo shoots.
2) How did you decide that you wanted to start a clothing company?
I’ve always been into fashion…but more so the entirety of self-expression as a whole. I’ve also always been heavily involved with drawing, painting, and creating stuff. I noticed the rise in popularity of graphic apparel during 2012 after I graduated college. I had a ton of stuff from brands like UNIF, Obey, you name it. I liked how graphic apparel incorporated ironic artwork into the designs and just seemed straight up punk rock. I began to teach myself graphic design programs like Illustrator and Photoshop. My first design, the ‘Street Pigeon’ was created during the summer of 2012, and from there I wanted to keep going and I did. I researched for months on how to get wholesale accounts, e-commerce sites, printers, fabrics, advertising, the works. By February of 2013 I had launched Chi Flo. I haven’t stopped since. It really has become my baby.
3) On your website you talk about “Qi Flow.” Can you explain this a bit further and what it means to your brand?
Before my brand went fully into action, I had to come up with the perfect name for it. During its beginning stages, I happened to be watching a movie called Kung Fu Hustle, a pretty funny and quirky kung-fu flick. An underlying topic of the film was finding your “chi flow”. One of the main characters had to find his chi flow in order to master his skill and ultimately beat the bad guy. One of the lines that caught my attention was “If your Chi Flow can be channeled, you will be invincible!”. So, the term Chi Flow really stuck in my head.
I Googled it later on and found out that Chi Flow, spelled also as Qi Flow, is a term used in Chinese culture that refers to natural energy or the life force part of any living thing. ‘Qi’ translates to ‘breath’ or ‘air’ and according to Chinese philosophy, Qi is the force that links everything in our surroundings together. Once a person channels this flow of energy, it is said that they sort of reach this perfect balance within themselves and become capable of greater things.
That being said, I was sold on the entire idea. I knocked off the “w” at the end of ‘flow’ and that’s how I came up with the name. Ironically, I was finding my Chi Flow while putting together this whole brand. Being that I draw and design all the artwork and take pride that it is in fact “art” and not just stolen .jpegs from the internet, I tag-lined Chi Flo as ‘The Balance of Art & Apparel’. It really all comes full circle in my opinion.
4) What is your favourite part of the creative process?
One of the main reasons why I enjoy what I do so much is the entire creative process that goes along with it. From drawing designs inspired by life events and converting them to digital images to coming up with concepts and directing, styling, and modeling in the photo shoots, I just feel like I’m doing what I’m best at. I’m no big head though. I learn something new every single day. I am well aware that things can always be better and slowly as my brand grows, I grow with it.
My absolute favorite part is seeing the end product when it all finally comes together. For instance, my most recent line ‘Bad Bones’ was first thought out, then drawn out, then designed, then created. I wanted dark colors, simplistic designs, and a rock & roll vibe. Once everything was done, I got a bunch of models together and got my photo shoot location and photographer. I wanted the theme to be very dark and cool and for my models and I to look like a gang, or in my terms, a Chi Flo Army. We managed just that and then some. Our promo video shot by Sam DeAngelis is absolutely flawless and ahead of its time. When I say that, I mean that my brand’s outreach isn’t even at a percentage of where I know it’ll someday be and I just really wish the whole world could see how cool our videos and shoots are. But it takes time and as of now, Chi Flo’s fans and friends seem continuously pleased.
Again, the brand is small and run solely by me, so it takes a bit longer for me to constantly come out with new things but I’ve manage to drop a Fall, Winter, and Spring/Summer line both years it has been around.
5) If you could collaborate with one person or brand, who would that be, and why?
There are so many brands and people I’d love to collaborate with but off the top of my head and in my wildest dreams, I’ve always wished I could collab with Betsey Johnson. I’ve always adored her wild style and colorful designs. I love how she puts together fashion shows too. She was a big inspiration when I was growing up. Always had a Betsey bag over my shoulder. It would be so cool to collab with her. Patricia Field too. Her styling is impeccable and I’ve always wanted to get Chi Flo in her store.
I also would love to collab with Rebel 8. They’re a huge inspiration to me as well. I love the art by Mike Giant and I love their rock & roll/tattoo inspired designs. I think they seem really down to earth and I’d love a brand mentor like that.
6) What’s in store for Chi Flo in 2015?
2015 I hope is a big year for Chi Flo. I plan to expand more, collaborate more, pump out more designs, come out with an awesome Spring line, throw more events, and design more intricate, one of a kind pieces as well. I dabble with studding and sewing but I never went into anything full throttle due to lack of certain production capabilities. However, the people I’ve met this year are so willing to house Chi Flo’s creative works and help me with things I need guidance in have me anxious to come out with new innovative creations. I’m happy to be able to tell people to be on the lookout for that new Chi Flo. There’s a whole lot in store, but I’ll leave it at that!
7) Do you have any advice for aspiring creative people?
If I had to give any advice to aspiring creative people, it’d be to work hard consistently and DO NOT STOP. Just keep getting better. I know that sounds cliché, but a downfall of being a creative type is letting other people’s criticism dictate how good they are at what they do. What we forget to see is that it doesn’t matter what the critics think. What matters is that you are using your skills and knowledge to express yourself in a way no one else can, because no one else is you.
If you keep working at something and continuously push yourself to learn the ins and outs of your craft, you will reach your goal someday without even realizing that it was definitely going to happen the first day you started. Waste little time doubting your capabilities and do not be afraid to put yourself out there. People that don’t understand your artistic growth will weed themselves out, and who cares? That means they were never part of your army anyway. You’ll find that as you grow, your people will come and stand by you and appreciate all of the creativity encased in that talented soul of yours. So, yeah…find your Chi Flo!
Isn’t Christina amazing? I’m so proud of her and everything she’s accomplished and make sure you keep your eyes peeled in the coming months for the new Chi Flo apparel that will be out. Thanks again Christina for answering my questions and I hope you all join the Chi Flo Army. You can shop the brand here.