It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re picking the brains of bold, powerful women who represent our future. Today, meet Caroline Vreeland and Shea Marie.
Throughout time, we’ve counted on a small number of community leaders to push things forward, break perceptions, and bring change. And ladies, the past two years have been pivotal. We’ve seen–and struggled with, and spoken out against, and called shit out on–issues that have been pressing, and still continue to press, womenkind. It’s change that we want to champion throughout this month, while celebrating those who are propelling us into a far better future. So throughout March, we are focusing what matters to us most, right now: groundbreaking, culture-shifting, era-defying, and straight up goals women.
By Tiyana Grulovic
Photos by Maya Fuhr
Friends, collaborators, and probably the ballsiest babes you’ll ever meet, Caroline Vreeland and Shea Marie are OGs in the social media game. Shea (aka @peaceloveshea) started her burgeoning empire with a style blog before those were even a thing, moved to Instagram, started a swimsuit line–and that’s just naming a few of her creative pursuits. Caroline–whose great-grandmother is legendary editor Diana Vreeland, so the fashion pedigree is strong with this one–is an advocate of LGBTQ rights, body positivity, and wine (seriously follow her hashtag #carowine). The real magic happened when the two ages ago as neighbors, and quickly transitioned into best friends and frequent collaborators. We spoke to the powerhouses about how they handle pressure, how their differences are good for business, and the struggles of breaking new ground in the fashion industry.
You guys are best friends with a great meet-cute story. I heard you were neighbors but then found out you both worked at the same place?
Caroline: I was just moving into a new apartment building in LA, and I was carrying up my boxes and I saw a cute blonde down the hall. I had to rush to a job orientation–I was bartending in Hollywood at the time–and she worked there, too.
Shea: When I saw her moving into that apartment I thought, fuck. This rich, bratty, beautiful girl is moving in next to me. And I had, like, 2 dollars to my name. But then I saw her pulling out of the garage in the most beat up Honda. There was smoke shooting out the back of it and I thought, she’s down.
Isn’t it weird how a shitty car can be so endearing?
S: She was in it like it was a Rolls Royce.
“I saw her pulling out of the garage in the most beat up Honda. There was smoke shooting out the back of it and I thought, she’s down.” – Shea
You guys came up in the social media game together. Is there something that you’ve learned from each other over the years?
S: We feel like we’re the only people to get each other.
C: I was very shy with Instagram at the very beginning, and Shea was very encouraging. She taught me everything. She has taught me to focus my eye. We love helping each other with photos. And I love it. I mean we have to–we have to do do it every fucking day!
S: What we do, in my eyes, it’s not just silly photos. It’s photography.
Shea, you do a lot of different things. You have your own business, you design swimwear, you shoot, you creative direct. Do you think that social media has given you this whole new career that just didn’t exist before?
S: Absolutely. I think that Instagram is a form of art in itself. Everything that I do for it is creative. I wouldn’t say its pre-planned, but I put a lot of thought into it.
C: But she’s segueing so much now. Originally, she did have the blog, and she thought, “I don’t want this to be my end all be all, I want to be doing bigger things.” Eventually she developed her own personality on Instagram — we both did. I love it, because I get to be the muse and she loves it because she’s honing in on all these creative skills she already has.
S: Just us two together, we can create really really beautiful things.
C: We’re messing around and learning.
“I feel the thing that’s made us as a unit be welcomed, especially by younger girls, is that we are so different. And we’re always trying to elevate each other and work together.” – Caroline
I wanna talk about your personalities. They’re very different.
S: We’re opposites!
Total opposites! Shea, you try to present a really aspirational front and post really positive things. Why is that so important to you, to the younger girls who look up to you?
S: What I want to show people now is what really happens behind the scenes. Instagram, for me, is almost like an art portfolio, so I keep the photos there really beautiful. But I want people to see what really happens. It’s not all glamorous, a lot of the time it’s not very happy, either. It’s us stressed. Us crazy. Things going wrong. People mad at us. People being not so nice to us. We want people to see that because the girls that follow us they think we have these perfect, glam lives and sometimes the fashion world is really cutthroat. People aren’t always nice, and situations are almost never what they seem to be.
S: We’re come into the fashion world in a whole different way. There are editors who are amazing, and who we’re friends with, but there’s a lot who haven’t been so accepting. They’re like, fuck these girls, they came in, they didn’t work their way up the ladder or slave Devil Wears Prada style, and they’re gonna sit in front of us at fashion week?
But you built a ladder that didn’t previously exist.
C: My great grandmother, when she was at Vogue, only cared about what was new, what was different: Mick Jagger’s lips, or Barbra Streisand’s profile. Carine Roitfeld is a lot like this — she’s excited by youth and by what’s new. We need to accept the way things are changing.
C: Going back to what you asked about the differences in our personalities, I love that. I feel the thing that’s made us as a unit be welcomed, especially by younger girls, is that we are so different. And we’re always trying to elevate each other and work together.
What I love about you, Caroline, is that you’re super open–even when things aren’t great. You call that shit out.
C: I really do, but I also get into a lot of trouble for it!
S: You take things harder than I do.
C: Things roll off Shea’s back.
S: If I cared what people thought about me on this whole journey that we’ve been on, I would be nowhere.
“If I cared what people thought about me on this whole journey that we’ve been on, I would be nowhere.” – Shea
How do you guys empower each other?
S: I feel like we’re a good duo because I’m the business side of things, and she’s very much the networking, social side of things.
C: Yeah, I’m good at schmoozing.
S: She gets us in there, and I get the deal done. Right?
C: Fuck yeah! *shakes hands*
I wanna talk a little bit about body image, too. I know that’s something you’ve spoken out against, Caroline. Do you feel things are changing?
C: I definitely think we’re making a lot of strides. We see more curvy figures now more than ever–and that’s amazing, that should not be discounted. But I think we’re very far from that being the case.
I was talking to Emily Ratajkowski about it–I’m trying to develop a project around body image, either a video or an essay, I’m still exploring–because she’s famous for her body. She said she shot a cover for a magazine and they completely changed her lips and boobs! They changed who she was, and she was offended by it. And it’s hard for me too because I want to be taken seriously as an individual. I am also not a typical model. If people want to work with me, they need to take me as I am.
Speaking of body confidence, and feeling more assured in your own skin, do you feel like that’s changed your style in any way?
C: The older I get the more I feel much more comfortable in my own skin. I feel feminine, I feel like a woman. Of course, that’s a process.
S: You’ve always been super confident. I’m a lot more critical of myself I think.
Have you taken anything from Caroline that has helped mitigate that part of you?
S: For sure. I envy that about her, and it makes me wonder why I’m beating myself up for these little silly things. I have this weird thing with my ears! I won’t put my hair up anymore. Some boy in middle school said I had big ears, and it’s always stuck with me.
C: That’s all in your head! And if you did have big ears–make that your thing. Make it sexy!
“We feel pressure, but it’s a positive fire under our asses.” – Caroline
Do you guys feel any pressure from being in the public eye?
C: I don’t think we feel that from external sources, we feel it from ourselves to do our best.
S: We know that Instagram is fleeting. But we want to build an empire.
C: We both have a similar story in that we left home really early, didn’t come from money, and came to LA to try and make shit happen.
S: And we’ve been working since we’ve left home.
C: People look at the whole Vreeland thing and they think there’s a trust fund.
S: We’ve been through times where we had to scrape money together so we could go to Starbucks!
C: Or we would buy Vogue instead! We feel pressure, but it’s a positive fire under our asses. Like Shea was saying earlier, we didn’t have a backup plan. Neither one of us wants to marry a rich guy or have anybody else pay our way. We want to make things happen on our own.
How do you guys work together? Any challenges?
S: We’re both very strong personalities.
C: But I think that’s why we respect each other. We’re both used to people being more like the yes men. We actually push each other.
S: But we’re helpful to each other.
C: You’re also good at compartmentalizing work and friendship, Shea. If someone looks at me wrong, I am broken for the next 10 years.
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