PALOMA ELSESSER & ALEXIA ELKAIM

PALOMA ELSESSER & ALEXIA ELKAIM

FADE IN:

INT. LE TURTLE, LOWER EAST SIDE, NEW YORK CITY – EARLY AFTERNOON

The dining room of Le Turtle on Chrystie Street in downtown Manhattan is set for dinner service. Black and white striped napkins are folded atop the marble tables, with silverware and dishes set neatly.

CUT TO:

PALOMA ELSESSER and ALEXIA ELKAIM enter the restaurant and take a seat opposite one another on the camel leather couch. A waitress presents two glasses of water, as they start chatting.

ALEXIA
How long have we been friends for? Ten years?

PALOMA
Yeah, babe. We met when we were 15 years old, in the 10th grade.

ALEXIA
Oh my god, shit! At the party I threw to celebrate my arrival at Wildwood [School]. I had just transferred there, and became friends with a group of guys that you were friends with, even though you went to a different school.

PALOMA
That was the first time we met. I was reckless that night, so drunk that I had to sleep at your house.

ALEXIA
Then we woke up the next morning and had a day together. We started seeing each other more and more, and became friends.

PALOMA
The rest is history.

ALEXIA
We’ve had our breakups, but we can’t quit each other! We even moved here together for college.

PALOMA
Oh my god, we had such a hard time at first.

ALEXIA
I was very lonely, and constantly thought about moving back to LA, or even Paris.

PALOMA
I met a new crew freshman year, and hung out with them a lot. Then, I basically dropped off the face of the Earth. I had to go back to LA for a year to recalibrate.

ALEXIA
You returned a new woman.

PALOMA
I got my shit together. [LAUGHS] I came back appreciative, motivated, and focused.

ALEXIA
I never thought I’d still be here after graduating. I’ve outdone myself! [LAUGHS]

PALOMA
A lot of people move here, milk it for what it’s worth, and then go back to where they came from. Sticking it out has been really rewarding! Look at you and your new brand, Miaou. It’s doing so well.

ALEXIA
It started as a passion project. I couldn’t find jeans that complimented my hourglass figure, so I decided to make my own and start a line. I had a full-time job at the time, but Miaou was getting such good buzz that I ended up quitting it. I’m glad I did, as it was always my dream to be a creative director.

PALOMA
I’ve loved clothes for as long as I can remember, and getting ready for parties together was — and still is — one of the things that brought us together. I never intended on being a plus size model, though. I moved to New York to study journalism and psychology.
It’s cool how modeling became my path.

ALEXIA
I always thought you’d be an actress. You’re a personality with a distinct point of view,
and very photogenic.

PALOMA
I can see my name in lights! [LAUGHS] I’m very grateful for the opportunities that social media platforms, like Instagram, have provided for us. They’ve been very helpful to our careers.

ALEXIA
Social media and the internet have definitely shaped consumers’ relationships with brands. They can follow Miaou on Instagram, for example, and feel connected to it without ever having seen the product up close.

PALOMA
I want my Instagram audience to know me. So, I post photos of shoes I like, things that inspire me, my friends — whatever I find interesting. My account is curated, but it’s still an honest and authentic display of my life.

ALEXIA
You’re really good at that. When I first started Miaou’s Instagram, I came to you for help. I was so stressed out, and had no idea what I was doing. You told me how it should look, what to post, how to edit photos — the general do’s and don’ts — while still maintaining the brand’s integrity.

PALOMA
Remember when you were using hashtags?

ALEXIA
I thought that’s what I had to do!

PALOMA
You are so creative, very talented, and have such a good eye, that I would hate to see you and Miaou poorly represented by a hashtag. A brand will typically hire hundreds of people to make it what it is, but you did it on your own in a few short months. Miaou is 100% your vision.
It’s incredible.

ALEXIA
Thanks, dude!

PALOMA
Yeah, babe. I’m lucky to have a friend like you.

ALEXIA
There are certain friends that I can only do specific things with, like dinner. You and I vibe really well. We can do absolutely nothing and absolutely everything together.

PALOMA
Even travel the world! You’ve supported me throughout the years, especially
when I’ve felt vulnerable.

ALEXIA
I’m always there for you, even though you hardly ever need my advice — you’re pretty intuitive. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve learned how to deal with our problems, and not dwell on them. Things have generally become less overwhelming.

PALOMA
I grew up and became an independent person — an adult — here. That’s why I’m so attached to New York City. It holds a special place in my heart.

ALEXIA
I love everything about it: the seasons, the accessibility, the community. I think Los Angeles is a very polarizing place, even though there’s so much richness and density. We always knew
we’d come to the City.

PALOMA
I can’t help but think: Holy shit, I live here — and it gets better and better each year. Sometimes it can be really competitive because everyone is hustling and striving for more, but it’s really inspiring to see my friends who are in their 20s make it. They’re living the lives
they’ve chosen for themselves.

ALEXIA
Life in New York is very fulfilling. I always thought I’d raise kids in LA — I also miss my mom — but I think moving back is ultimately contingent upon my business.

PALOMA
I couldn’t move to Los Angeles right now. I don’t work there that often, but I might at some point.

ALEXIA
I want to be everywhere, so it’s hard to envision myself settling down at the moment.

PALOMA
Agreed. So, would we ever move back? Not no.

CREDITS

Photography byRyan Petrus

Conversation moderated byMichelle Rizzi

Special thanksLE TURTLE

Paloma Elsesser is a model based in New York City.
Alexia Elkaim, based in New York City, is the designer and founder Miaou.

Did you see? Friends Molly Sims & Emese Gormley talk modeling, motherhood, and managing it all, visit the New York City studio of designer Morgan Curtis.

THE END