After meeting in a six-hour fabric class at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, Mary Darling and Leah Ashley knew they were onto something special.
Fast forward to now, and the two lifestyle stylists have turned their mutual passion for fashion into successful YouTube channel A Fab Life — described as the lifestyle guide for the fab girl living on a budget. Throughout the week Leah and Mary create videos covering beauty and fashion advice, styling tips and decorating projects. The girls have redecorated the rooms of many prominent YouTubers, including Tyler Oakley and MakeupByMandy24, and with each room makeover, Leah and Mary are looking to make YouTube a little more fabulous. Chatting with NMR, Leah and Mary shared the secret behind their great onscreen chemistry, their personal beauty obsessions and why they’ll never leave YouTube.
How did you two originally meet?
Leah: We met in FIDM at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, downtown in a fashion design class. We met at FIDM and kind of bonded over this six-hour pattern class that we had, and we would have an hour break in the six-hour class and we would head down to Santee Alley in the fashion district of Downtown L.A. and we would go shopping and bring back bags and bags of stuff for like 10 bucks. And everybody would be like, “Oh my gosh, where did you get that? That’s so fab, that’s so fab.” So we were like, maybe we’re onto something here. We don’t have a lot of money, and we’re students and we’re on a student budget, but we always manage to have a pretty good time and look fabulous and feel fabulous doing it so why not start a Myspace page? [laughs]
When did you decide to transition to YouTube?
Leah: We decided to transition into YouTube probably, seriously, two years ago, and we always made videos and did little things. We were always building stuff; we just didn’t really know what to do with it.
What do you think makes a girl “fab”?
Leah: I think a fab girl, for us, it’s really all about how you feel, you know? We’re not out there preaching like, “You should wear this. To be fabulous you need to wear this trend” or “Do this with your hair” or anything like that. It’s really about how you feel about yourself.
Mary: Yeah, just feeling fabulous in whatever you’re wearing. So we’re not about one trend. We’re honestly into trends and into fashion, and we’re all about celebrating your own style. We also have clients and stuff and we’ll make over their spaces, and it’s never about making them fit into one style or one trend, it’s about kind of celebrating who they are and just kind of figuring it out a little bit.
When working with clients, how do you know what elements of their style to highlight?
Leah: Well we sit down before we do any makeover with whoever it is — whether it’s on YouTube — or whether it’s with our clients and really find out like what inspires that person, what is that person into, what do they love, what is their vision for the space? And then we really try and work within those parameters of how can we take their vision and things that they love and just make it even more fab.
For someone who is interested in redoing their look, what are some inexpensive things they can find to change up their style?
Leah: Well we are like firm believers in basics and having your basics covered, so whether that is dark skinny jeans, jeans you look great in, things you feel comfortable in. And then just kind of having fun with cheap, fun accessories with things like rings and cool scarves and fun shirts, and you can kind of like play around with a lot of trends without spending a lot of money and have some key pieces that look good on your body.
Mary: We always say your wardrobe should be 70 percent basics and 30 percent trendy stuff.
What is one of your personal beauty secrets?
Mary: Don’t do anything ever [laughs] … no. Okay, so I use coconut oil for a lot of different things, like that you can cook with, and it’s organic so it’s good to eat and good for your skin so a lot times I’ll put that all over my body before bed, and it just kind of soaks it overnight so you feel moisturized and hydrated and your skin is all glowy and good.
Leah: I am a firm believer in self tanner. I am too nervous to do self tanner all over my body ‘cause it always turns out streaky, but I always use it on my face, so like when I’m in the sun I always keep my face out of the sun, a big sun hat, lots of sunscreen, but then I’ll put on self tanner and it makes it look like I have that peachy glow all year round. And I love Christian Dior — makes a really great self tanner, and it makes me feel really fabulous buying it. I don’t know, it’s like 30 bucks, it lasts for like a full year, and I get to go in the Dior store on Rodeo Drive and they like give you a handwritten note in the mail saying, “Thank you for your purchase,” and it just makes you feel really fabulous.
How would you describe your YouTube channel for someone who has never seen it?
Leah: For us it’s really A Fab Life is the ultimate lifestyle guide for anyone who wants to be fabulous. Obviously our demographic is more female but it’s really about creating fun content that is inspiring but also attainable. If you watch our videos, you’re entertained, but you walk away and you can go, “Oh, I can do that.”
Mary: And we try not to take ourselves too seriously, and we love ourselves a good cocktail.