CADETTE WOMEN | Lian Najarian

No words can accurately express just how grateful I am to know the incredible – Lian Najarian (New York-based art director, photographer and social media lead at Tanya Taylor). Once again, I need shoutout the internet for enabling like-minded people like Lian and I to connect, while being in different parts of the world, Lian being in the US, and me being in Canada.

I first discovered Lian and her work just over a year ago when she shared a stunning photo wearing a Female Form Necklace (truly an early Cadette supporter!). I noticed straightaway, from her collection of photos, that this woman was ambitious, had a refreshing & beautiful creative vision, and of course, was super talented. We continued to chat on Instagram throughout the year, and even vaguely discussed Lian photographing Cadette pieces, one day. And finally, when I found myself planning an impromptu work trip to NYC this past September, I thought of Lian right away.

Fast-forward to mid-September: Lian, Iman (our model), and I, spent a sunny afternoon walking around the Lower East Side neighbourhood, capturing photos for Cadette's upcoming F/W '19 collection – it was such a fun, sun-filled, creative day that I will never forget. This day was also the first time Lian and I met in-person – and it's safe to say that we both felt as though we had been friends for a long time, already! My respect, admiration and fondness of Lian only grew from that point on. 

(Above – Photos of Cadette's F/W 19 Collection shot by Lian).

Lian and I had dinner later that evening, and I was so grateful to hear more about her journey – from first growing up in a suburban town in Pennsylvania, to discovering her creative spirit and taking the leap to attend SCAD in Georgia, to then relocating to NYC where she now lives and works full-time. Lian graciously shares more of her story in this Q&A that I am so excited to share with you all:

(Lian asked me to create a new pair of earrings for her that comprised of one Helene Earring, and one Nova Earring, which she's wearing above – I am obsessed.)
Photo by Laerke Rose

Can you briefly describe your childhood – city you grew up in, hobbies?

I am from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, which a small suburban town. My hobbies varied a lot — I played soccer, the flute, piano, and took acting classes when I was a kid. And none of those I was particularly good at, but it was a way to keep myself busy and figure out what I liked!

When did you first discover your creative spirit?

It was middle school that I really started taking my love for artistic practices seriously. I had done jewelry, glass blowing, and sculpture classes (all very hands-on) on the weekends outside of school. Eventually I picked up my mom’s old camera and just started shooting. I was obsessed! That was around 8th grade when I started to get more and more interested in photography, which led me to take darkroom classes and then other digital classes so I really got to see all the different aspects of it.

Did your family & friends support, and nurture the passionate creative in you, throughout your adolescent / teen years?

So many of my friends and much of my family supported me, but there were definitely some that did not see the point in what I was doing. It was different from what my sisters had done and what people at my school were doing. It wasn’t until I was thriving in college when I think people really started to see the value in what I was doing.

I have so much respect for you, for the leap you took several years ago to attend art school at SCAD in Savannah, Georgia. Was it just as envisioned it would be, prior to arriving, or different?

Thank you! In the beginning, it was a little more intimidating and challenging than I thought. I was definitely in the midst of finding myself and that came with a lot of ups and downs my freshman year. Once I experienced different activities/people and began to take my major classes, I felt like I found myself. That was when I got everything out of SCAD that I expected to. My creative vision came to life and I was really able to channel it during my last 3 years. I’m forever grateful for SCAD and how it helped me become the creative I am today!

From your journey at SCAD, what was a key take-away you gained or came to understand about the creative industry, that would help prepare you for the next stage of your career?

The most important thing I learned was that the more you collaborate and surround yourself with other creatives, the more you’ll be inspired and motivated to make more work. I think that’s true in any industry. My major was one that required a lot of collaboration between majors, so I was able to work with so many students of different talents. It was amazing to see how much better my work got because of those partnerships.

From another perspective – what would you say you learned most about yourself, personally, during your time in Savannah, attending SCAD?

I learned that I love to be challenged by others around me. I have a very close-knit group of friends that I made in Savannah, and we have always encouraged each other to push ourselves in every aspect of life. They motivate me so much and I soon realized that they were a reason why my experience at SCAD was as transformative as it was.

After graduating at SCAD, what inspired you to make the move to New York? (where you’re now based)? Are you enjoying it so far?

I always dreamt of moving to New York after college, so I knew that I had to make it happen. I love it so far! It’s full of so much art, creativity, and energy that I’m constantly inspired.

And now you’re leading social media at Tanya Taylor – SO EXCITING! What do you love most about your job?

Yes!! I love that I can utilize my creative skills while also working towards a business goal. It perfectly aligns with my major at school (Fashion Marketing & Management). I also love the people I work with, which makes going to work that much more enjoyable.

(Above – Tanya Taylor Resort 2020, shot on film by Lian).

What is a challenge you’ve faced along your journey, that has led you to this point in your career, and the learning you gained from it?

This is going to sound cliché, but a challenge I faced was applying to jobs after school! It’s so stressful to find the right position at the right company, and that goes both ways. I learned that everything happens for a reason, and wherever you go in your career is exactly where you’re meant to be.

For others trying to look for work (in an industry that they’re passionate about) in a new or different city that they’re from, is there a tip you can share that you found to be helpful?

My biggest tip is to just to make the move, live in that city, and take it from there. It will be a lot easier and more manageable to make all of those changes when you have one of them checked off the list. I didn’t have my position yet when I moved to NYC, but it fell into place once I got there.

I’m such a fan of your creative vision, aesthetic, and the work you bring to life. What or who inspires you and your creativity, today?

Thank you so much! Right back atcha! I find so much inspiration from fine art — I love Constantin Brâncusi, Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, and Lee Krasner. I am also inspired by creatives that I find on Instagram (which is how I found Cadette!!), specifically Sissy Sainte-Marie Chacon, Beatrice Gutu, and Chloe Horseman. 

What’s a fun fact not many know about you?

A lot of people don’t know that I’m half Chinese! I don’t know how much of a fun fact that is, but it always takes people by surprise when I first tell them.

Connection with Lian: