Today we’d like to introduce you to Armando Melendez.
Armando, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in LA. I’m 33 years old. I’m a first-generation Mexican-American with my first language being Spanish. Growing up, I was obsessed with “telenovelas.” The gorgeous gowns to the sexy mini skirts. This was my first introduction into gender-bending fashion. I wanted to wear the short skirts but I identified as male at the time and this wasn’t acceptable in a hetero normative “machista” household and community. In High School, I found my people I started hanging with the punks at school and I started exploring and changing the way I saw fashion. I started altering my own jeans into skinny jeans. I left my shoes at the bowling alley and walked out with some bowling shoes. I also started shopping at second-hand stores and the women’s section of stores. This opened my eyes to a whole new world. My girl cousins and my mom saw my passion and would ask for my opinion on how clothing looked on them. Then after graduating HS, I moved to NYC and my friends their also noticed and started asking for fashion advice also. I realized that “fashion sense” didn’t make sense to everyone and these people needed help. I ventured off in many different avenues always keeping my close bond with fashion. After a few attempts in other ventures, I ended back in retail at a jeans store.
At that same time, I had a really important conversation with a well-known stylist. I asked him how can I become a stylist. He said “you just gotta start doing it.” I knew what he meant. I had to start trusting myself and follow my instincts. So I did. Which brings me to today I was the top sales stylist at a well know luxury boutique in LA. Where I got to play dress up and dress women in gorgeous dresses and beautiful mini skirts that I had tried on the day before. That’s how I style my clients I form bonds with them I understand how clothes work on a structural level but also at an emotional level as well. I have styled many more friends and celebrities. My goal is always the same with anyone I work with I want you to feel confident and comfortable at the same time and why not feel like a baddie at the same time!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There’s been lots of struggles: growing up gay, Mexican and not fitting the gender norm was very uncomfortable. On top of all that, I grew up poor financially but not in spirit. I say all this because it wasn’t until I got sober five years ago I didn’t embrace my struggles. Today these are the things that set me apart. These are the things that give me Mandoh an edge. I connect with people on a deeper level than most. I truly care about how you think and feel. “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I connect with that which allows me to connect with you!
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am most proud about overcoming the fears that I as a person believed for so long. This has brought me to style people on red carpets. I’ve styled for TV Shows, music videos, and everyday wear. The fact people trusted me to find the perfect outfit for them fills me up with joy and gratitude.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory was being carried out of bed put in a car and I woke up in Disneyland. Its a metaphor for my life. A big part of my life I been asleep and I’m now waking up in the magical kingdom.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @mandoh