It might surprise you to know that the downtown NYC based it-girl with glowing skin and flowing hair, Bianca Valle, was not queen of the castle in high school. Hailing from San Diego’s Coronado where blonde, sun-kissed tweens ran wild in Roxy printed bikinis paired with Billabong shorts, Bianca instead found herself experimenting with early doses of vintage and high-brow “nerd glasses.” Being first-generation, Bianca spoke fondly of her childhood, knowing herself to have been a “dreamer” with parents who were supportive, yes, but also go-getters themselves. On family trips to Europe, Bianca would pretend she was Van Gogh and displayed a penchant for macarons long before they became “the new cupcake.” Shrouded and guided by the constellations she weaved into her own sky, Tumblr was her North Star and a BTS look at Pirates of the Caribbean was her Big Dipper (citing the latter as thee influence to her decision to pursue a career in film, long live Captain Jack Sparrow). “I lived in a very conservative town so everyone’s houses looked the same, everyone dressed the same but when I made a Tumblr, I realized, holy mother of god, there is so much out there and so much beauty. To be honest, I think this was the start of who I am creatively,” said Bianca from her perch on a plush, baby blue couch at 11 Howard on a chilly, November evening.
Sporting a Sandy Liang jacket and Comme des Garcons tote, Bianca’s 14,000+ followers on Instagram will be happy to know that the twenty-something-year-old starlet is indeed all that and a bag of cashews, which she tells me are her favorite. While she ponders out loud if her followers like her because of her outfits, her photography, or her painting, I quietly massage another option; Bianca’s aesthetics are surely divine but that’s not all they were drawn to.
Since Bianca graduated from NYU (and during her time there), she has been a working woman of color in the creative industry. Having had internships throughout her collegiate career at a slew of illustrious companies like Milk Studios, NYLON TV at NYLON Magazine and Refinery29, Bianca’s story of growing up “different” and finding success in the City of Dreams is one that echoes all things good and true about being a millennial today. With the world watching, Vogue crowned her a “rising beauty star” in May of this year, slews of comments from fans and friends congratulated her on her appointment as NYLON’s Beauty Editor and the same empathy ensued when NYLON folded two months later. Now working as VFILES’ Community Manager, Bianca has emerged like a phoenix from the ashes, unscathed, with wings fully spread.
Like so many young professionals who come to New York City with a dream in their back pockets, and yet, unlike those individuals who never get that job, Bianca, at the age of 22 was staring down her dream job. “I landed at NYLON Magazine and I thought here is my career, I’m going to be here until I die. I would wake up everyday beaming,” said Bianca. Told to “work hard in school, get good grades, do well in college and then get a kick-ass job,” Bianca had been paving her very successive, very straight path since the day she arrived in New York; so much so that she now recounts getting laid-off and handed a severance package “a blessing and a curse.” “All my energy was going towards finding a good career and so when I found it and it turned around and slapped me in the face, I was like I’m a human with a life that does not live to work, I need to work to live,” said Bianca.
As a self-taught entity in the beauty space, Bianca refers to herself as a “ball of ingrown hairs.” With a complexion that glows and viscous, wavy, hip-length black hair, she is striking, to say the least. As a Mexican woman, her awareness of the extent to which race has been the driving force in her life is “very recent.” “I pushed away this whole Mexican thing and saw myself as white, and I was white for a long time. It was really crazy because I would research what skin bleaching was. I only realize it now in my early twenties how messed up that is and in a small town, no one talks about it,” she recalls. Noting that her mother was but one of the pillars that held her up as she morphed into the product-guru that she is today, she recalls her mother waxing her leg hairs in elementary school and painting her nails. Not allowed to wear makeup until she was in high school, Bianca’s proclivity for the beauty space stemmed from a necessitated passion. “I am not blessed with an easy going beauty situation and because of that, I was forced to learn about [it],” she said.
While the beauty space seemed to exist in the shallow end of the fashion pool due to its obsession with expensive creams and its mania for trend-oriented habits, it was refreshing to know that Bianca was hired at NYLON because she was self-taught making her voice organic and effortlessly relatable like talking to an old friend. Hoping to make her beauty tips not only universal and affordable, Bianca acknowledges that it’s a “big undertaking” to change the way that we talk about beauty. “I was ready to share it with the world and I wanted to educate myself and learn new things, but then someone or something took that away from me. I was literally forced to change my perspective on life,” she said.
Although only unemployed for two and half weeks, Bianca spent a lot of time in bed, yes, but also thinking deeply about the lack of “mental growth” she had been exhibiting. “I realized I needed to nurture my mind, my beliefs, the way I look at life, the way I speak to myself, the way I think for myself because my job isn’t everything. If someone took my job away, I’d feel like they took my life away and it’s like no, no, it’s just a job,” Bianca said as she’d been fully glazed by hindsight.
While “being hungry” for success is definitely a make it or break it quality that separates the New Yorkers at the top of the food chain from the dreamers hoping to climb the corporate ladder, Bianca is redefining success for her generation, “success is optimism, success is positivity, success is happiness.”
Going from NYLON Magazine to VFILES might seem like traveling between a teenage Anna Wintour’s closet and the archives of Gabriel Held, but Bianca has made the journey with a new understanding of fulfillment and the beauty space as a whole. “Beauty is past products, past the eyeshadow, it’s what makes you feel beautiful and I feel like that doesn’t get touched on too much,” she said.
As the #woke movement oscillates between sputtering strides and blazing forth new, hallowed ground for a generation of people that wants to be “instafamous” but also free to express their individuality, Bianca’s career moves echo the latter sentiment. Passionate about body positivity and as much in love with Miu Miu heels as she is with her Vans, Bianca is carving out space for herself in her career. With a smile on her face she says, “we’re all so complex, we all have so many interests, not just because we live in New York City, but I think it’s because our generation is exposed to so much. We like rap, classical music and alternative. We like going to Paris, Berlin and Tokyo and they’re all such different places. I have my NYLON side, my VFiles side, my Milk side, my NYU side, I have my Coronado, Cali side and you know when I go back home, I’m wearing a North Face and Uggs and that’s fine. People are like oh, maybe your style isn’t consistent, or your interests aren’t consistent but it’s like who are you to say anything? That’d be so boring if you were just one thing, always.”