Interview with fashion designer and YouTube sensation Matt Sarafa

He may only be 19, but Matt Sarafa is already taking the fashion world by storm with his Hot Me$$ line that debuted last year and his new FAKE collection that appeared on the runway at New York Fashion Week in February of this year.

The Manhattan-Beach Californian already had a popular fashion and beauty channel where he offered clothing and makeup tips on YouTube, but he came to the public eye when he appeared on Lifetime’s Project Runway Juniors in fall 2015.  In his limited spare time, he is a fulltime student at UCLA and an advocate of many important charities including Children’s Hospital LA and the Pink Lotus Foundation.

Sarafa’s edgy designs are exciting, generally affordable and are gender neutral.  He also added 10 new jewelry pieces that include rings, knuckle rings, necklaces and chokers to his Hot Me$$ line.

Matt Sarafa chatted with TheCelebrityCafé.com about his lifelong love of fashion, his experience on Project Runway Juniors, his successful YouTube channel, the creation of Hot Me$$, his favorite designers, the charities near and dear to his heart and more.

TheCelebrityCafé: Where are you from?

Matt Sarafa:  Manhattan Beach, California.

TCC:  How old are you?

MS:  19

TCC:  How did you first get interested in fashion?

MS:  My interest in fashion started at age 7 after watching a marathon of Project Runway.

TCC:  You were in Project Runway Juniors? How was that experience?

MS:  Being on PRJ was the opportunity of a lifetime. I learned so much and got to meet some incredible people in the industry.

TCC:  What was the most important thing you learned while on that show?

MS:  The biggest thing I learned from the show was to always stay true to myself. I found myself doubting my abilities at times and now looking back I think I could’ve made it so much further in the competition had I stuck to my guns.

TCC:  What are you studying at UCLA?

MS:  I am a Design & Media Arts major. I’m learning about the integration of technology and art and I love it so far!

TCC:  Please tell me about your YouTube channel?

MS:  I’ve had my YouTube channel for over three years now. I share my love for makeup, fashion and beauty in my videos and it’s something I really enjoy doing.

TCC:  How would you describe your fashion point of view?

MS:  My design aesthetic is definitely edgy with a hint of luxury. I love blurring gender lines in my pieces and creating fun, cutting edge pieces of art.

designer Matt Sarafa and model Carla Kronsbein

TCC:  Who are your likely customers?

MS:  I get orders from all around the world! Most of my customers are either fans of mine from Project Runway or from social media.

TCC:  Please tell me about Hot Me$$?

MS:  Hot Me$$ was my debut clothing line I launched right after my appearance on Project Runway Junior. It is an everyday streetwear line inspired by what I like to personally wear on a day to day basis. Just recently, I expanded the line to include jewelry as well.

HotMe$$ photo by Brooke Mason

TCC:  What is FAKE?

MS:  FAKE is my latest fashion collection that I premiered at New York Fashion Week. Inspired by social media, this high-fashion couture line has edgy-yet-playful silhouettes and is made from premium textiles.

TCC:  Do you design clothes for people of all sizes?

MS:  I try to never exclude anyone from being able to rock my clothes. I think the whole point of fashion is making people feel confident as soon as they put on your clothing.

TCC:  Who are some designers you admire?

MS:  I love designers who aren’t afraid to take risks and push boundaries. Some of my favorites include Versace, Balmain, Givenchy, Alexander McQueen, Chromat and The Blonds.

TCC:  What are your career goals?

MS:  I’ve always said since I was little that I wanted to build an empire. I want to be a major player in the fashion world and have a respected brand that sits with all the other powerhouses in the industry.

Matt Sarafa

TCC:  What was it like having your work shown at NYFW?

MS:  Showing a collection at New York Fashion Week was literally a dream come true. That is something on pretty much every aspiring fashion designer’s bucket list and the fact that I was able to make it happen at 19 years old is beyond belief to me.

TCC:  Please tell me about your charity interests?

MS:  I’ve been raised in a household where my parents have always stressed the importance of giving back. Since I was little, I’ve been a part of multiple charity organizations from Children’s Hospital LA to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. My personal favorite causes to help out are ones who cater specifically to LGBT issues, since that is something so close to my heart.

TCC:  What do you like to do for fun?

MS:  Fashion takes up a lot of my time, but I don’t mind that at all because I love doing it. Outside of work and school, my favorite thing to do is hang out with friends and just laugh until we’re all rolling on the floor with tears in our eyes.

TCC: What is your role in the jewelry curation for FAKE?

MS: Jewelry is something I have really gotten into recently. I love how you can use it to elevate any outfit and personalize it. However, cool jewelry is hard to find and a lot of times it can be super expensive. I wanted to create a jewelry line where my customers could find cool pieces for a very affordable price. The first release of my jewelry was so successful and so fun to curate that I’ve decided to expand the line and add even more pieces!

TCC:  How did you come up with the name for your Hot Me$$ line?

MS:  My FAKE collection is inspired by the idea that you can’t believe everything you see on social media. We’re all guilty of only posting things that make it look like we live perfect lives, when 99.9 percent of the time that’s not the case at all.

TCC:  When are you set to graduate?

MS:  I am set to graduate from UCLA in the spring of 2020, but I’m taking a couple summer courses and working really hard so hopefully I will be able to graduate even sooner than that and be able to dedicate more time focusing on my work and growing my brand.

TCC:  What’s next for you?

MS:  2017 has already been such an amazing year for me! In the past two months alone, I’ve presented a collection at New York Fashion Week, released a jewelry line and hit 100k on Instagram! I’m currently in the manufacturing process for my next clothing line FAKE, and working on adding pieces to my jewelry line. I honestly can’t wait to see how the rest of this year goes and I’m so excited to share the entire journey with all my supporters via social media!

TCC:  Where can people find out more about you?

MS:  I’m very active on social media! My favorite platform is Instagram @mattsarafa but I’m also trying to get more into Twitter.

TCC:  Where can people buy your work?

MS:  My website mattsarafa.com is where I put up all my clothing & jewelry collections for sale.

TCC:  How do you prefer to connect with your fans?

MS:  I’m a huge fan of social media, so I love talking to my fans on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. The new live streaming features are so fun because I really get to connect with all my followers!

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Michelle Tompkins

Michelle Tompkins is an award-winning media, PR and crisis communications professional with more than ten years experience with coverage in virtually every traditional and new media outlet. She is currently a communications and media strategist and writer, as well as the author of College Prowler: Guidebook for Columbia University. She served as the Media Relations Manager for the Girl Scouts of the USA where she managed all media and talking points, created social media strategy, trained executives and donors and served as the organization’s primary spokesperson, participating in daily interviews with local, regional, and national media outlets. She managed the media for the Let Me Know internet safety and Cyberbullying prevention campaign with Microsoft, as well as Girl Scouts’ centennial Year of the Girl To Get Her There celebration in 2012, which yielded more than 800 million earned media impressions. In addition to her extensive media experience, Michelle worked as a talent agent in Los Angeles, California, as well contracting as a digital content developer and her writing has appeared in newspapers and online. She is passionate about television, theater, classic movies, all things food and in-home entertaining. While she has lived and worked in NYC for more than a decade, she is from suburban Sacramento and gets back there often to watch the San Francisco Giants on TV with her family.