Rain fell steadily outside, drumming out a backdrop of soothing white noise against the chatter of the cafe that Friday afternoon. Jackie Dimailig, a young San Francisco creative, stood at the white counter as she ordered a loaf of pound cake, sporting a heavy, burgundy fur coat that fell just past her hips.
Her hair was pulled back in a slick, high bun atop her head. The gentle click-clack of her pencil-thin heels tapped out an intermittent rhythm between the abating drops of rain. The pristine ensemble gave her an aloof, reserved appearance — leaving her practically unapproachable to the unacquainted eye.Then, she broke into a disarming smile.
“You have to try some of this pound cake!” she greeted warmly.
Dimailig, better known by her Instagram handle “@bubbzzz”, is a Bay Area frontrunner in the new, up-and-coming trend of creative styling. Even though stylists have been around as long as image has existed, professional styling — for artists, musicians, and other creative personalities — is just now beginning to gain recognition as its own autonomous art form.
Although having only styled professionally for about a year, Dimailig has worked with countless models and photographers in the Bay Area after garnering recognition for her clean, bright style and unique form. Recently, this last September, the artist even styled Samaria, a rising R&B singer from Oakland who’s opened for artists like Washington D.C. rapper GoldLink on his stops in the Bay.
In an interview with nasi, Dimailig shared that she began styling informally like many of us — by dressing up friends in high school and shooting with their parents’ cameras. The artist only started taking things more seriously after she threw her own art event last year.
“For a long time, I really felt out of place with things…[like] no one [that I knew] was really into what I’m into,” Dimailig described, referencing how she previously studied science. “I just love the creative space. I love being able to express myself in this type of way. I went to school, and I did sports [medicine] and everything. And that was me. But that’s not me anymore.”
And the way she’s carved her unconventional path as an artist has definitely been a journey. Pragmatic, confident, and extraordinarily determined, Dimailig is able to zoom out from the engrossing creative process to evaluate her current circumstances and how to best navigate them. She described what she does as “a little bit of everything,” and hopes to infuse both sides of herself — the logical as well as the creative — through her events and her styling.
“I feel like a lot of artists need that person to put them out there, to kinda guide them, ‘cause people with creative minds aren’t that logical sometimes,” Dimailig explained. She wrapped her hands around her steaming coffee for warmth but left her drink untouched. The coffee’s swirled surface of white-and-brown foam remained unbroken. She hopes, then, that her events will help showcase those who otherwise wouldn’t have a platform for their works, as well as offer a space to collaborate and exchange ideas — to build a network of creativity.
But for now, Dimailig will keep focusing on creative direction and styling, pushing forward with a drive rarely seen in so many multitalented, 20-year-old artists. Currently, she’s working on building her portfolio and expanding her clientele, maybe even moving down to Los Angeles — ”I need some sun,” she insisted, laughing and gesturing to the gray sky — sometime in the next year or two. The stylist, who identifies heavily with her Aquarius air sign, described herself as a “chameleon,” one who’s able to throw herself head first into any situation and make do.
“I really wanna do celebrity styling and image consulting first. And then later on — I mean obviously I want to do some editorials too — but I really want to move to New York eventually and just do ad campaigns. I really want to work for Vogue,” Dimailig rattled off excitedly. “I’m gonna take anna’s spot. I’m tryna….I’m tryna make it out here, you feel me?”
Styling, in Dimailig’s opinion, is definitely a fun piece of work and artistry. She views sets and looks as puzzles to solve, especially as she navigates how to incorporate her own mark into what the model is wearing, while still leaving the model confident and comfortable.
Despite her sometimes elaborate looks, her creative process is surprisingly quite simple: She’s inspired by everything. When Dimailig feels a creative block, she’ll just take a stroll around the block to feel reinvigorated, drawing influence from her closest friends to random strangers on the street.
“You know who’s really fitted?” she asked suddenly, remembering one moment of street inspiration. She answered herself without waiting. “The Asian ladies! They know! I’ll never forget this one lady [who] had this olive green velour sweatsuit. Like, where did you cop that??”
Even though she’s been swathed in fabric her whole life (her grandma owned her own seamstress shop), Dimailig’s work is still largely spontaneous, experimental, and sometimes haphazardly thrown together on the spot.
“I’m getting a hold of how I like things to look. And the thing is too that I’m always changing. A year ago, I would never wear this, you know what I mean?” she asked, gesturing to her fur coat. “When I pitch things together, it has a lot to do with what I’m feeling at the moment, too.” Her shoots are often a rare immortalization of the clothing that gets recycled everyday — a timeless snapshot of the ephemeral feeling she experienced in that moment.
Her direction, motivation, and commitment to her art stems largely from the success she hopes to share with her family, as well as others who have supported her along the way.
“I come from a very humble family. So, what I really want to do is…I just want to send my dad on a farm, because he really loves farms. Let him have his little animals,” Dimailig said with a playful smile. Her joking tone grew more serious as she continued. “My grandma just retired, and she’s 70. She’s been working her ass off. I really want to take care of her too. You know. Just take care of people who have been there for me.” She grinned before finally taking a sip of her now-cold coffee.
Through her reserved persona, Dimailig’s generosity, warmth, and exuberance for her passion shone through easily. As the drizzle abated, the sun began to peek out under a blanket of gray.
“I do what I do because...this is going to sound cheesy,” she laughed, interrupting herself before continuing again. “When I create, it’s like a release. It’s like, I have to style. I have to do something. So, I guess It’s for me, but I guess the success side. It’s for them.”
View an assorted gallery of past shoots below.
By Eda Yu
Photos by Sanny Bisquerra, Darrin Baldridge