What’s your niche? What is the one thing that anyone and everyone comes to you for advice on? Southern Californian, Aralí West has found her calling in not one, but three creative mediums. The most interesting thing about being an artist is the versatility that comes with expressing yourself. West’s creative skills stemmed from a hobby to a business of photography, graphic design, and fashion.
After studying journalism at Azusa Pacific University, West went back to earn a second degree in graphic design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Her magazine experience on-campus helped her devolve a love for more hands-on creativity versus the writing route. While beefing up on her design skills, she then picked up photography from a Los Angeles friend in-tune with the fashion industry.
Most, if not all artists have a unique entrepreneurial flare about them. They have to brand themselves and make their passion, and talents evolve naturally. In January 2014, she and Jonathan West, her husband founded West Clove, a modernistic and elegant jewelry brand.
West approached her husband with the idea of taking jewelry design classes. However, his eagerness and Google savvy skills led them to formulate a handcrafted brand that also dives into the philanthropic realm. A percentage of the proceeds goes toward the creation of care packages for people undergoing chemotherapy.
The West’s personal experience with cancer led them to this heartfelt adventure with fashion. “He got the pieces and started testing out how to make things,” West explains. She goes on to mention that her husband pushed her to create the pieces on their own instead of taking classes. After a year of success with global attention from Australia and Canada, they recently launched their online platform for West Clove. In addition to accessories, the brand also features graphic T-shirts. “It’s great to give back to the community and help those in need.”
Although West runs a jewelry company, her fondness for fashion was very little when she began her journey in photography. “In the beginning I assumed what I wanted to do was more fashion.” While she had a great experience shooting L.A. shows and events, she was not crazy about the baggage that comes along with the fashion industry. “I have an appreciation for it. It has its positives and negatives.”
West soon drifted her focus to lifestyle and travel photography. Take a moment to scan through the captivating travel photos of forest adventures to dining moments. And don’t forget to browse her blissful collection of romantics. Along with her partner in crime, West and her husband set dates for her travel photo shoots as she notes that California has so many great places to explore. “I really love to travel and it’s beautiful what our world entails.”
West takes her love for creation and brings it to the world in so many ways. Hosting workshops at The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising for the Career Center, she admits to the rewarding feeling of helping other artists grow in his or her field. “I help people get to the creative level they want to be. People are paying to be there because they want to learn. I make sure they walk away knowing the software they need for the long run and help them reach their accomplishments.”
West truly has a knack for helping others. Her latest project, The Fashion Student Digest, prepares other fashion-craving individuals with insight on the industry—from informative articles to job listings. On the horizon, West is looking to expand West Clove with home décor and collaborating with more handmade designers.
Stay tuned for what’s next with West! The 29-year-old is clearly on a mission to use her talent for good and she’s great at it.
By Yegide Matthews / Photos: Courtesy of Arali West