For months I’ve been following Ashley aka @jacklyn.lune, a Jersey City native fashion blogger and mental health advocate on Instagram. Her daily posts combine fashion and inspirational quotes that help uplift her followers (including myself). Ashley also helps raise awareness of Anxiety Disorders by sharing her daily personal struggles and triumphs. Ashley is an extremely courageous and inspiring fashionista!
I met her and her soon-to-be hubby Brian (who also happens to be her photographer) by 9bar cafe in Downtown Jersey City to talk about fashion, mental health and of course Jersey City!
What’s your name? My name is Ashley Jacklyn Carmenatty.
And what do you do? I am a secretary at an electrical company at the moment.
But you’re also…? I am also a fashionista, photographer, and mental illness awareness advocate.
Can you elaborate on each of those? When I was a child I was a tomboy. I did not like pink, I did not like brushing my hair; I didn’t like doing anything girly-related. I loved to hang out with boys and beat them up and get dirty. But when I hit a certain age, it started to become apparent that fashion was what made you cool; it was what made you liked by people. I think I started becoming fashionable when I was actually 18-years-old and that’s when I started to actually think about what I wanted to portray to the world through my clothes. And that’s when I started to actually pay attention to what I was wearing and I think also it helped me become a more confident person than who I was.
I’ve always taken photos when I was a child, I loved photos. When I was younger my mom had an old fashioned camera that she actually used to let me play with and I would just take photos galore of everything and anything. My mom was a photographer so she actually noticed that I was having good composition in my photos. My visions in the photos were actually a story to be told and people got that. In high school I just joined “Known Staff” which is yearbook in high school and we had to go around taking photos of people for the yearbook and also interviewing them. That’s when I started to get into photography and doing what I enjoyed doing and then I got my first camera and that was it. And then I just fell in love with shooting people, doing conceptual photography and expressing myself through the lens.
I’ve always had anxiety disorder since I was seven years old. Nobody knew what it was, everybody just thought I was an attention seeker or you know, a child typical of that age who doesn’t understand things about life. But what they didn’t realize was that I was actually really smart for my age and I asked so many questions that could never be answered. I’ve always needed answers so when I couldn’t get the answer to the things I wanted I would get anxious. I would freak out a bit because I needed to know why this, why that. So they brought me to the hospital and the doctor just said I was a hypochondriac and everything was fine with me, but when my mom for Christmas got a Gateway 2000 computer, I actually started sneakily doing some research and trying to figure out what I could possibly have that made me feel that way it did. So I think when I was seventeen, when I started becoming more of an adult, I started to actually realize that “Wow, this actually does add up to anxiety disorder.” And that’s when I started to be more expressive with who I was as a person and stop being afraid of you know, telling the world, “Hey, I have a mental illness, but I’m not crazy, I’m not worthless. I’m actually trying to do something with my life.”
We all have mental illnesses. Yeah, that’s the thing. People think that it’s certain people, we all have an anxious mind, but some people just have it more than others. My anxiety is always higher than other people’s. So let’s say someone has a fear of something, well that fear is higher for me, it’s the end of the world. What I wanted to do was just start expressing myself to other people who perhaps might have the same thing because in Spanish culture you can’t have any problems and the world cannot know you have any problems because it’s just not a good sight. People don’t like what they call “bonchinchera,” which means “gossip.” So it was always hush, hush about everything, but I wanted to help other people so they wouldn’t feel so alone and thankfully, through Instagram, I was able to do that. And it takes a lot of courage to express yourself through a platform that people are so apparent on bullying. They don’t care, they are internet warriors and they will literally rip you to shreds.
So what are you wearing today? Everything is basically from Forever21, except for my shirt which is American Apparel and my hat which is from Cottenown . I just graduated college so it’s hard to find a job that’s targeted in my field and money is always a little issue, but I do try to find things in Forever21 that are fashionable but not kitschy or tacky.
It’s how you wear it, not where you get it. Yeah, exactly, that’s my thing.
How do you define your style? I like to call it chic, boho-chic because there’s days that I just dress like a hippy. My hair will be down, I’ll wear flats, I’ll wear big shirts and pants and like hammer time pants and then there are other days that I just will wear black and white and I feel comfortable in black and white. I’m not a bright colorful person, but when I want to be I do here and there, but I definitely think it’s like a boho-chic style.
So your fiancé actually takes all your pictures right? Yeah, I’m teaching him actually how to capture an image of somebody.
How did you guys meet? What’s the story? We met in fifth grade.
Oh my god really? Yeah, we were friends for a long time and we went to the same grammar school and we separated in high school and then we kind of reconnected at the ending of our high school year. We grew up in the same area too.
So are you guys both from Jersey City? Yes.
Born and raised? I wasn’t born here, but raised [here].
What’s your name? Brian Perez.
What do you do? I am an electrical engineering intern at the moment.
How do you feel Jersey City has changed in the past couple of years? I feel like it has changed dramatically, a lot of gentrification. I feel that there is a big difference in myself walking outside. I remember as a kid when I would walk outside, it’d be like, “Be home at eight o’clock at night,” and fear everything outside. Now you come Downtown and everyone’s outside, everyone’s partying, everyone from New York is coming here and everything. It’s starting to become more of New York, I mean I go to school in New York so at the moment, it’s literally like I’m living in New York at the same time back and forth.
So you see it as a good change? I feel like it’s a good change, I mean we still need to help other parts of Jersey City and everything like that and not push away the people that live in the Gardens or anything like that. I feel like it’s unfair that we’re just like cutting down their homes and then trying to get all the rich people to live here. For the most part, Downtown, Jersey City is becoming a beautiful place.
And how do you feel about the changes? (Jacklyn) I agree, when we were little it was always like, the sunset, you had to be home and especially since I was a female, it was a tenfold thing. But I agree with him, it’s beautiful, it really is. I talk about it to people on my Instagram all the time, they’re like, “Where do you live?” and I’m like, “I live in Jersey City,” and they’re like, “Oh my god, are you okay? How do you survive?” and I’m just like, “What?! What are you talking about?” It’s kind of like a little Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you know? ‘Cause I went there for a photoshoot with Refinery and I was like, “Holy-god! I’m home again!” ‘cause there was so much graffiti everywhere and it was beautiful. I agree, it’s beautiful, but there are also other parts of Jersey City that need the help especially up in the Heights by Greenville. It’s a scary place, but if we come together as a community to help those in need. I definitely think Jersey City will be a beautiful place and people can actually come here and be like, “This little gem is a beautiful area.”
What are your favorite hangout spots? Well I love 9Bar, I mean I’m half Italian so I just love all their food their and the café lattes are amazing. We went to Talde the other day, for my birthday weekend and everything was spicy, but it was a good altogether group of friends—it’s like a forcing-you-to-share type of thing. I also dance at Sports Barre and I love that area, it’s amazing, the women are so lively and beautiful. It’s just like, “Yes! I want to dance because they’re so beautiful.” But yeah, we’re down in this area, we go to Downtown Yogurt sometimes.
Bryan: And Toricos.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you or your blog? My blog is apart of who I am, the part that talks about mental health are the words I’m usually afraid to say out loud, so I write them down instead. I will always be open and honest about my mental health life and the situations that I go through. I’ve learned from a very young age that I will not allow others to make me feel inadquent or stupid because of my mental illness. I will also not stay quiet about my illness and will always fight for our rights to be treated with the same respect as someone who does not have a mental illness. On October 3rd, I will be walking with my family and friends to end the stigma behind mental illness. If anyone wants to join my family team, I would be more than grateful. I have a link that they can post so they could learn more about the walk that I am doing and can help spread the word. If we work together, we could break the stigmas as a family. And if you’re down for that cause then you, are apart of my extended family.