Host & Creator Micaéla Verrelien Left a Wall Street Accounting Job To Pursue Her Creative Ambitions

What does it take to follow your dreams? How do we navigate a world where expectations and pressures sometimes force us to follow a career path that are in the opposite direction of our dreams? It’s not the easiest thing to do, but also not impossible as host, model and content creator Micaéla Verrelien can attest to.

Micaéla’s journey did not start out in fashion and media. In fact, her career began on Wall Street, of all places, working as an accountant. Yet she had a passion and a dream to pursue other creative ambitions, and while she was still in the 9-5 corporate grind, she started creating content in her spare time.

Eventually, she knew she had to make the leap full time, left her accounting job and dove into the world of modeling. That step forward paid off, and Micaéla has since appeared on websites like Vogue, Nylon, Refinery29, and NYMag, as part of her journey to become a multifaceted creative and on-air talent. She has also been a creative director for projects with Urban Outfitters, Teen Vogue, and The Metropolitan Museum.

Most recently, Micaéla completed her 250th episode of the “Macy’s Live” show, where she hosted live shopping events and chats with industry leaders about new products. Micaéla inspires and educates her audience through her content about skincare, makeup, and personal style. She credits her experience studying the beauty world and interviewing industry experts such as Betsey Johnson, Sunday Riley, and Jerrod Blandino for her unique perspective as a visual storyteller and beauty & fashion thought leader.

Wanting to learn more about her career journey and what it takes to pivot with purpose, we spoke with Micaéla about building a career out of having a creative eye, and how she stays inspired to create for various mediums.

Before we dive into your fashion career, let’s talk about how you made the switch from a very corporate career – can you tell us about working on Wall St as an accountant? 

Working as an accountant was actually what I thought was my dream. Or at least I made the assumption that it needed to be. From a young age, all I ever wanted to do was make my Caribbean mother proud. I knew I didn’t have the desire to go into the traditional Caribbean career path – which is to be a doctor, nurse, lawyer, or engineer. These are the jobs that are deemed as successful in my culture, and I knew I didn’t want to do any of those things. So at the age of 18, I had to make a decision.

After further research, I realized that I could make just as much money and achieve success if I went into accounting. I was good at math, so I thought this was the best way to go. So as a freshman at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, I confidently declared Accounting as my major and I stuck to it. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Accounting and Managerial Information Systems, basically online coding for businesses. After graduation, I interned at a Big Four accounting firm called PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers).

Shortly after, I moved to New York with little desire to do accounting. However, I needed a job and with PwC on my resume, I was hired for a government position on Wall Street in no time. I always had a thirst for learning new things. Compared to school, working in the field was completely different. It was exciting and fulfilling work, until it wasn’t. After three and a half years, I was bored, tired, and no longer learning anything new. I wanted to learn but there was no room for growth and unfortunately, my boss at the time was not interested in moving me up.

However, emotionally and mentally I knew that I needed advancement in my life and a change in my routine. So, I quit the stable government job with absolutely nothing lined up. I was a very ambitious and crazy 26 year old at the time. I still very much am, except I’m just not 26 anymore! 

As with many people who want to make the leap from corporate to creative full time, your pathway began as a side hustle. How did you fit in content creation with your 9-5 initially?

Ambition will allow you to make time for anything you deem important in your heart. It was and still is very important for me to find happiness in what I do. So after work and weekends were the times I carved out for my creativity. I never skipped a weekend. Once daylight savings began and we had more hours of sunlight, I used that to my advantage. I would shoot right after work and attend events as well. I was hungry and just really wanted to give myself a full chance. 

Since changing careers, you have appeared on websites like Vogue, Nylon, Refinery29, and NYMag to name a few. How has this kind of media amplification benefitted your career and opportunities? 

I feel so blessed because to have had these amazing publications help amplify my career in so many ways. It gave me exposure that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Coming from a small town like Brockton, Massachusetts, many of us do not have access or the opportunity to be on huge platforms. So I am thankful to all of the writers who saw my talent, grind and uplifted my voice. 

As the (now former) host of Macy’s Live, you had a front row seat to the biggest beauty brands, designers and creatives in the industry. What were your favorite interviews or segments throughout your time with the show? 

My fondest memory and most memorable interview was when I had the opportunity to interview Betsey Johnson. 

Having been a creative director on a number of projects with major brands, what does the role involve, and what kinds of ideas does a Creative Director need to come to the table with? 

Being a Creative Director takes an army, but it takes one mind to find the perfect army to win the war. The role involves a lot of planning and ideating on themes, location, wardrobe, hair styles, makeup looks, as well as casting talent and recruiting a team, most importantly a photographer. It’s fast paced with a lot of moving pieces and I love it. The next project I’d work on would have to be a special one for sure. 

Although fashion and beauty has been seeing a lot of progress with diversity, there is still a long way to go. How have you navigated through the industry as a woman of color knowing there are still many barriers to be broken? 

Having the ability to navigate these industries is something I take as a blessing. I always go in being my authentic self. I have been on sets where I’ve dimmed my light and hated how I felt afterwards. So moving forward I promised myself that I would never do that again. If I am hired to host, model, or create content, I will always go in as myself and leave as myself. Knowing who you are is so important because if not, it is very easy to compare yourself.

Nonetheless, what I realized is that there is no comparison. We are all beautiful in our own way and we all can inspire others by just showing up. I know as a woman of color who is dark-skinned, curvy, with big curly hair I make a statement even when I don’t say anything. I have learned to allow that statement to be my narrative, and that it is okay to take space because my ancestors earned this. 

Who are some of your fave models, designers to watch, exciting new brands we should be paying close attention to right now? 

I am obsessed with the Kai Collective by Fisayo Longe right now. Her designs are beautiful, colorful, and bold. I am also really loving MoodDeaux by Brianna Arps. She is one of the few Black women in the fragrance industry and it’s just so good! 

As a storyteller and thought leader in the fashion world, why should more brands and companies be incorporating meaningful messages into campaigns an advertising? 

Companies incorporating meaningful messages is important because it influences the minds of all of their consumers. The more impactful the story is, the more likely the consumer will enjoy the company’s product or services. So much so that they will give organic promotion like word of mouth and shares on social media. 

If you could choose your ideal client to model for, interview, or work as a creative director on a campaign for, who would it be and why? 

It would definitely be Vogue. That is an outlet that I forever looked up to and to have the opportunity to work with them in any capacity, I would take it! 

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