BETA
Close

Stylist By Day, DJ By Night: Sophia Hyacinthe Knows How To Hustle

People

Sophia Hyacinthe, Stylist & CEO of Immaculate Wardrobe, is all about changing how women show up in the world. For her, what you wear is as much about how you look as about how your look makes you feel.


Born and raised in the Bronx and now lives in NYC, Hyacinthe earned her bachelors in Fashion Merchandising Management from Berkeley College. Hyacinthe says she's always been interested in music and fashion. “It's always been and will always be what I live for." She describes herself as spiritual, creative, and unique, and says her friends and family would call her funny, stylish, and passionate. In other words, she's a natural for creative endeavors.

Hyacinthe began her stylist career as an apprentice to celeb stylist June Ambrose. These days her styling expertise has been featured on SiriusXM and in the New York Post.

Over the past thirteen years, she's built quite the business, working with women CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies, publishing industry powerhouses, and girl bosses all over New York City.

Here's the wild part. She's not only a highly sought after stylist, she's also an equally sought after DJ known as DJ Soda Pop, spinning for brands like DVF and Rag & Bone and at queer and underground parties at ACME, the Museum of Sex, and Kinfolk. She says her style is all about blending 90s hip hop with hot sonic house beats, while also adding in musical influences inspired by her Haitian roots.

Here's a look into how Hyacinthe combined the seemingly strange pairing into an impressive career that is all her.

Sophia Hyacinthe. Photo credit: Sebastian Melendez

Sophia Hyacinthe. Photo credit: Sebastian Melendez

How would you describe your childhood, and who you were as a kid growing up?

I grew up the youngest and only girl with three older brothers in a hip hop household. I can clearly remember all the guys in the neighborhood gathering at my house to listen to Jay Z's reasonable doubt. Being the “pesky" little sister, I was, of course, banished from the gathering, but hid and sat on the top of the stairs and memorized every word as if my life depended on it. My taste in music expanded beyond hip hop when I got exposed to different cultures from going to middle school in Greenwich Village and later frequenting iconic NY hotspots like The Beatrice Inn and The Kenmare.

How did your venture into styling begin? Is there something you would consider your “big break" in terms of launching your work as a stylist?

I was fortunate to have a clear understanding on what I wanted to do in life from an early age. For example, I was so obsessed with fashion that I would sleep with Vogue fashion spreads under my pillow so that I could wear the outfits in my dreams. Music and fashion worked hand in hand as the music set the tone for everything and acted as the soundtrack to my life. In high school, a counselor introduced me to the amazing stylist/writer/activist Micheala Angela Davis who took me under her wing and later got me my dream job a styling internship with style architect June Ambrose. Upon graduating college and through my consistent interaction with female professionals in retail, I founded and tapped into a niche market. It took one client believing in me and hiring me to build my confidence and clientele.All of my clients are extremely successful, not only excelling at work but also in their personal lives. Being around them not only keeps me sharp as a stylist but also as a business person. I've learned to gain and leverage my contacts to make partnerships with fashion power houses such as Moda Operandi and Barneys New York.

How did your venture into being a DJ begin? Is there something you would consider your “big break" in terms of launching your work as a DJ?

Music was so important in my house whether it was listening to Charles Aznavour on Sunday after church or riding around with my brothers blasting Biggie in my parent's Jeep. I craved it and always needed to be surrounded by it. I started creating playlists for my job and I took them very seriously.

My co-workers were always impressed by my selection of how I could have Pat Benetar, Sade, and Little Wayne in the same set.

I carried my secret passion for DJing for a long time until my best friend Eddy paid for my first class at Rock N Soul and it went from there. Along the way, I've met and continue to meet really cool DJ's along the way that support and inspire me. My big break so far would be me going out to an Acme party and meeting party planner extraordinaire Deryck Todd then spinning one of his parties where I met and built a relationship with the Museum of Sex's event coordinator which lead to my Thursday residency at their club.

What inspires you?

I like multi-dimensional music. Music that has texture and makes me feel. Artists I admire include Onsulade and Bonobo. With fashion I am inspired by things that are quirky and aren't classically beautiful. I love how Miuccia Prada approaches fashion and beauty, especially in her women's tales. I find inspiration in common things and everyday people. I keep myself visually stimulated by surrounding myself with art I love Austrian artist Egon Schiele and street photographer Jamel Shabazz.

How do you spend your free time?

I love thrifting and finding treasures at vintage stores in Madison Ave. Curating street style photo shoots in local areas like the Bronx. Listening to music, discovering new songs, and old gems. Spending quality time with my best friends and family.

Do you see a connection between your work as a stylist and your work as a DJ?

There is a direct correlation between my work as a stylist and DJ because the way I style clothes is very similar to the way I mix music. I consider myself a musical stylist. The way I pair contrasting prints is very similar to the way I blend different music genres.

What is your dream for your future career wise?

I see myself as an International Stylist and Fashion DJ. I want to further increase my client base and work with other industry heavy hitters such as Sheryl Sandberg and Bozoma Saint John and continue to build strategic brand partnerships with luxury brands. I'd love to create a career outreach program for young girls in the Bronx. I'd love to partner with fashion houses with luxury hotels to curate unique dynamic audio experiences.

If you want to catch DJ Soda Pop live, you can find her with Okayplayer on January 17th and her residency at the Museum of Sex begins January 28th.

Culture

A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.


Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.