Riot Grrrls: A Conversation with Sabrina Fuentes and Manon Macasaet
At just 18 years old, Sabrina Fuentes and Manon Macasaet—better known as SickySab and MingBlingBling—have seemingly taken over the downtown-NYC scene: You can find Sabrina performing with her band, Pretty Sick, at China Chalet on a Saturday night while Manon shoots photos for Stüssy lookbooks. Their friendship both on and offline is heartwarming and authentic and has become a core part of their professional lives—Sabrina is frequently the subject of Manon's creative projects and the girls often model together in shoots. Eager to hear more, we spoke to Sabrina and Manon about their friendship, creative aspirations, and how NYC has played an integral role in their upbringing.
Photography by Manon Macasaet. Sabrina is represented by No Agency New York.
Kate Marin: For those unfamiliar, who are you, how old are you, and what do you do?
Manon Macasaet: My name is Manon Macasaet, I am 18 years old and I take photos, videos and consult on the side.
Sabrina Fuentes: My name is Sabrina Fuentes, I’m 18 years old and I am a musician. I am the lead singer and bassist of Pretty Sick. I have also worked in fashion on the creative side for the past 5 years.
KM: When did you meet and how has your friendship developed with your careers?
MM: Sabrina and I met when we were pipsqueaks—2014 in our days interning at Vfiles. On top of having an amazing friend to grow with, Sabrina is a really logical person and has always helped me make good choices life wise and career-wise.
SF: I met Manon when I worked at Vfiles when I was 13 or 14. Our friend Danielle introduced us and we became really close—I think Manon and I both started sharing creative ideas with each other from a really young age and since then have encouraged and helped one another as much as possible.
KM: What's been the most important aspect of female friendship growing up?
MM: Comfort—I knew some nasty girls in middle school and high school that ruined female friendships for me for a bit, so I kept myself around boys mainly for a period of time because I was under the impression girls would just be mean to me. That was cool because they looked out, and still do, but there's nothing like a close female friendship.
I keep a lot of positive girls around me now and I think one of the aspects I appreciate most in terms of female friendship is my ability to be completely transparent. Oh, and I also think an important aspect of female friendship is supporting younger girls around you and helping them grow.
SF: Having genuine support and an honest opinion is more important than anything else for anyone who’s creative. Not to say that that isn’t something that men can provide for women, but it is rare for me to meet men who care to encourage women in the same way other girls do. I’ve always had a largely female friend group with only a few male friendships until recently in my life and I’m glad that I got to grow up around women who have taught me so much.
KM: How has social media helped grow your careers? Has it hurt you in any way?
MM: I use social media as a means of communicating with friends and also a tool to share my work. I wasn't born into what I do so I had to put myself out there on my own and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't useful for me. I think social media doesn't have to be toxic if you just use it organically and smartly. I am myself on it and I use it as somewhat of a portfolio. I think it gets most hurtful when people take it too seriously.
SF: Social media definitely helped my career, there are definitely a lot of people I wouldn't know if it weren't for social media. I don’t think it's ever hurt me, I don’t do anything too crazy online because I know how it can come back to haunt you.
KM: You both have a unique sense of style that embodies downtown NYC youth culture. What role has the city played in your upbringing?
MM: Everything. Growing up here and dwelling here daily is one of the things that makes me feel blessed. People like to complain about New York left and right but I don't really get it. Yes, its cold during the winter and that sucks but it makes summer even more worth it. And throughout this year I've felt so involved in my community and city and I wouldn't trade that for anything. My good friend Adam Zhu and I just started doing work for Hester Street Fair where we get to orchestrate performances and get friends to become vendors etc, where Pretty Sick got to perform on opening day! Things like that. We are really young and get to have so much involvement and make an impact. I think growing up here has made me a really proactive person just because there are so many things open to us. I feel like I am able to take action more in a place like this because I will be taken seriously and listened to. The rest of America is not like this.
SF: I love New York more than anywhere else on Earth. I can’t even begin to imagine how different my life would be if I didn’t live here. New York has shaped me into who I am through the lessons I’ve learned growing up here and the people I’ve met. It really surprises me when I meet young kids who live here but don’t take advantage of all of the opportunities being thrown at them. When I was younger I would do anything to get out of the house and experience shit and I learned and gained a lot from doing that.
KM: What musicians and artists have played an integral role in your careers?
MM: That's a really hard one for me because there’s not really a select few I try to model myself after but off the bat, Peewee Herman is a big one. I love watching Peewee's big adventure and Peewee's playhouse for inspiration, I had to come up with a video treatment recently and it helped me out a lot. I love his zany house and his abundance of toys—I honestly want my house to look like his when I'm older.
SF: Growing up I loved bands like the Smashing Pumpkins or Hole and I still do. The artists that I admire the most today are those that have a diverse sound or eclectic body of work like David Bowie, Beck, or Bjork. I really hope to become better at creating more well-rounded work and trying out new styles and genres.
KM: You both give off a strong 90s-energy even though you weren't alive during that decade. Who or what inspires your style?
MM: I like a lot of brands that originated in the 90s. They were simpler in a way than brands now but had so much attitude and history behind them. Some of my favorites are Fuct, X-girl, Hysteric Glamour, and I've been super duper into collecting W&Lt lately.
SF: It took me a long time to figure out what I felt the most comfortable and the most confident in. I guess at this point I kind of just try to dress like a rockstar which sounds super cheesy because it is. When I was younger I didn’t really wear anything that would make me stand out because I was scared to. Slowly I became more confident until eventually I threw out all of my clothing that wasn’t basically a statement piece. I guess the reason my style looks 90s is because most of my clothes are older than me. My wardrobe consists of hand-me-downs from my mom, vintage designer, things friends have given me, and things I’ve found on the street or in the trash lol. My influences range from early issues of Fruits and The Face to the musicians I love to my friends and even random people I see on the street.
KM: Manon, Tell us about your relationship to Stussy.
MM: My relationship with Stussy started when my friend Jordan who works there asked me to shoot almost two years ago I think. I shot Sab and Alex outside of a school near my house. Then I later shot a video of my friend Iris with a cool parrot our friend had bought a day before the shoot which is one of my favorite bodies of work I've made so far actually. I've done a couple other shoots and one other swim video for them. I love shooting for Stussy because it allows me to come into my own creatively so I get to discover more of my style while gaining experience shooting content for brands etc. I also worked in the store a bit during my gap year, which was cute, I danced to Akon a lot in there.
KM: What do you want to be doing in 5-10 years?
MM: In 5-10 years, I think I wanna be doing everything that I'm doing right now just bigger and better. I want to have shot music videos (for Pretty Sick first duh), maybe work in advertising, I worked at Weiden Kennedy for a bit which was amazing and a cool outlet. I'd like to curate more shows and continue making art as I do now.
SF: In 5-10 years I hope to have released a lot more music and to get better at playing, writing, and everything else in regards to music & the industry. I also want to continue to work in fashion on the side as I have for most of my life. Recently I’ve been thinking about starting some kind of music publication later in life but we’ll just have to wait and see where the wind takes me.