Carla Rockmore rose to online fame by sharing fashion tips. Here’s how her mission has expanded
The Dallas-based jewelry designer became a social media sensation during the pandemic. Now her transitioning daughter often appears on her feed.
For some, when your mom gets an account on your favorite social media platform, it might be a sign that it’s time to search for a new outlet. But not if your mom is Carla Rockmore.
The Dallas-based jewelry designer blew up as a cross-platform fashion influencer during the pandemic. She models colorful and adventurous outfits and shares other tips from her stylish two-story closet.
Recently, her daughter Ivy has started to join her mom on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, among other locales online. Texas Standard spoke with the pair. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.
Texas Standard: Carla, you’ve been labeled the real Carrie Bradshaw, the lead character from “Sex and the City.” Is that the popular character you feel you align with most, or not so much?
Carla: Well, I think between her and Iris Apfel, if we put them both in a blender, it would all be good.
Ivy, if you could pick who the headlines compare you to, who would you choose?
Ivy: Oh, my gosh. That’s a difficult question, because there’s a lot of people I aspire to. But I like the outfits from Jules Vaughn from “Euphoria” a lot.
Carla, I have read that women over 50 have been especially excited to see you emerge as a voice in fashion. Who have you found as the audience for your videos?
Carla: Well, you know, the best part about this whole social media experience for me was that I ended up being a family share. And I’ve got followers on the various platforms from 13 all the way to 75. So I can’t really say that there’s one specifically. Every age group follows me on a different platform.
Why did you get into this video platforming in the first place?
Carla: Well, to tell you the truth, it was COVID. At the end of the day, I was stuck in the house without my materials or my metals or my stones or all the stuff that used to keep me busy creatively. And I need to make stuff.
You need to make stuff and share it, apparently.
Carla: I guess so. I was sharing it with a few friends up in Canada on YouTube because I didn’t really have much of a social media presence before.
You say Canada. Aren’t you in Dallas?
Carla: Yes, but we were originally Canadians, and all my girlfriends were locked up up there and saying, “Please make me laugh because we’re really sad up here.” And so I started doing these YouTube videos, and they went along swimmingly for about a year. I didn’t know any other platforms to put them onto until Ivy then said, “You know, Mom, maybe we should put you on TikTok.” So in about a weekend I went from 91 followers to 250,000.
So Ivy, you’re to blame for this?
Ivy: (Laughs) In some ways. But it’s all her work.
Stripes are going to saturate spring and summer silhouettes and this Depop find checked all the striped boxes! I found this La Ligne winner with tags, in my size. AND it is the exact same color blue as my vintage snakeskin belt. Ain’t life grand sometimes? ♬ original sound - Carla Rockmore
Now as a mother, Carla, can you tell us about the decision to share Ivy’s story and bring her on camera with you?
Carla: You know, I think that it is part of my obligation, because I have such a large following at this point, to help in any way if I can – any other family who might have a child transitioning, with the ups and downs, the ins and outs and the good that can come out of the experience. The more people who embrace the trans community, the easier time I think it is for them. And so at the end of the day, I guess I’m being selfish and doing it for her – for Ivy.
Ivy, how eager were you to actually get involved in what it is that your mom does?
Ivy: I think I was super excited. I also think my mindset probably changed when I first decided to transition publicly, about six or seven months ago at this point. When that happened, [my Mom] really embraced me with open arms. And so after that, I feel like I was just more jubilant and more ready to show myself off to the world on the platform that she helped create for herself.
What sort of responses have you been getting, and what has that experience been like?
Ivy: Honestly, the experience has mostly been positive, which has been super nice to see. I am a pretty avid social media user myself, so just like throughout my childhood, I’ve followed influencers or like trans or LGBT creators. And so seeing response from individual people constantly has been really affirming to me, because you know, there’s ups and downs in this experience. But sometimes when I’m experiencing down days, it feels really nice to see positive comments, particularly on YouTube or TikTok or Instagram, which kind of makes the platform feel like home.
What about the fashion side of it? I mean, that’s got to be a lot of fun.
Ivy: It’s so much fun, I have to say. It is really exciting to just delve into our closet and, you know, film the “family fashion find” series – or even just like going to her before school and saying, “does this work?” And if it doesn’t, you know, she’ll hand me a sweater or shoes or whatever, because we can kind of interchange that.
How much of a model is your mother for you when it comes to fashion and makeup?
Ivy: One of the biggest if not the biggest. I think we have, you know, maybe a little bit of a different taste in style sometimes. But her, like just institutional knowledge and fashion is so, so helpful. And also the fact that she radiates confidence in her closet. You know, it’s her happy place, too. That kind of allows me to feel more confident, not only in myself, but in the way I express my gender through clothing.
Carla, what’s your backstory? How long have you been involved in fashion?
Carla: Oh, goodness. My my whole adult life I was a clothing designer by trade, and I did that for about 20 years and then parlayed it into jewelry design. Once my kids came along, I couldn’t go off to Asia on a regular basis to inspect garments. So that’s how it kind of rolled out.
And yeah, I have always understood that I can express myself without words through my wardrobe. I think that’s where the parallel between Carrie [of “Sex and the City”] and I manifested: We both understand the power of nonverbal communication. And, you know, I’m a bit of a chameleon that way. I can gravitate towards a very minimalist, clean look one day and then the next day go full-on frills and bows. I won’t box myself in. It’s the way I express myself.
Carla, it’s probably fair to say your closet doesn’t look like most of our listeners’ closets. What would you like to share with the average Texan about fashion?
Carla: I think what I would love to share is that you’ve got to listen to your gut. And the best way to do that is to, if you’re interested in fashion, take a look at what’s going down the runways – but don’t use that as doctrine. Instead, use your own, you know, weather vane. If something doesn’t feel right to you, don’t force yourself into it just because you think everybody else is wearing it. If something feels really up your alley, I give every woman permission to buy the same pair of pants in 10 colors, if it makes you feel good.
Ivy, as you continue to explore fashion, what do you think we can expect from you that’s a little different from your mom?
Ivy: That’s a really good question. I think, honestly, my mom knows more about styling than me. So I’m kind of just in a phase where I’m figuring out, you know, what really fits me in terms of my own personal style. I think I’m kind of just doing more exploration, and I hope to see my style kind of evolve into a more defined aesthetic, if that makes sense, the next few years. But honestly, my mom’s just really a role model and proving that you don’t really need to define yourself by one particular thing. You know, you can wear patterns one day and then just monochrome the next.
Carla: Yeah. And you know what else, Ivy? You never stop growing, so you don’t ever have to feel pressure to have a defined style.
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