The thing about interviewing a woman as special as Jacksonville’s Ari Gaskin, is that you don’t have to search for content, you just kind of take notes while she glows in your direction. It’s not the kind of glow that has you reaching for sunglasses and turning your back; it’s an inviting, intersectional warmth that pulls your light to the surface to mirror her. This may sound like some pretty extreme flattery until you’re the one across the table from her, falling into similar adoration.
Ari Gaskin is a Duval native, whose creative nature has led her through a plethora of jobs, roles, and places from Atlanta to Montana. She’s been everything from a model (check our pics from MOMNIFS) to a Yellowstone Park employee, but not in that order. ” A part of the hustle community,” is how she explains her work, and she currently manages a whopping six of those hustles.
“Any less and I start to get bored, any more, and I start to get anxious,” she tells me with a shrug. You can find her buzzing around styling pretty much anything in sight, i.e. photo shoots, events, people and their hair. “I’m a student of the world, and I love learning about all different parts of it. All of my clients educate me on a daily basis.”
Her first introduction to the fashion industry was to create custom outfits out of used materials for a show in hair school; the journey unfolded from there. “The very first show I ever walked I was terrified and I had a blast, but I never thought I would go further than that,” she says with a smile. After being asked to model more in other settings, she had an undeniable itch to stay in front of the camera.”My confidence got me into fashion, developing that sense of self.” For anyone looking to follow a parallel path in fashion, Ari’s strongest advice is: “Always be grateful, thank everyone endlessly. No job is too small to thank someone for. Don’t rely on your perception, just ask [questions].”
“Style? Style is waking up in the morning and doing exactly what you want to do with your body, mind, and heart,” she attests from her Bold Bean stool. Today she wears dark gladiator sandals and a long black fringe dress, with one of her many wigs wrapped in a colorful band. Shining around her day to day life, her looks are inspired admittedly more by people-watching than by any brands. “There are all kinds of people on the street who may be having a really hard time in life, but they’re still making great style choices.” Amen. This guru’s advice for developing your style? “Just know that you have everything you need inside of you already.”
Check out this fabulous lady in action and glowing all over the bold city and its erupting fashion scene. Her five-year goals include “going wherever the universe takes me” and “bringing all forms of people together to create a chemistry of respect and understanding.” Follow her on Instagram @ari.laren or send her a message and start a conversation, it’s bound to be a good one.
Written by Mara Strobel-Lanka. Photos by Stefanie Keeler and Heather Blackwell.