When Music Meets Fashion
By Kathryn Walsh | Photography by Alexis Emm
Hey, Carson Daly — Bea Talplacido is still waiting for an answer.
As a young singer/songwriter dreaming about stardom, she decided appearing on the MTV show “Total Request Live” would be her big break. The show had a policy of retiring music videos from its rotation after a period of 65 days. Bea thought getting the attention of Carson, the show’s host, would be her ticket, so she wrote to him. Every day. For 65 days.
“I sent him the keys to my car. I sent him a case of his favorite beer,” she said. “Anyway, he never wrote me back. Probably a whole bunch of interns were going through it, laughing, drinking my beer.”
Although MTV didn’t come calling, that experience did help her get a foot in the door of the music industry. When Bea told that story to the guys at a music venue in Dallas, they hired her as a booking assistant, which led to her opening for musical powerhouses, including John Mayer and Norah Jones.
Eventually, she sold almost everything she owned and moved to New York City. She hauled her amp and guitar down into the subway every day, carefully timing her arrival to coincide with the cops’ shift change to avoid getting fined for playing in the subway without permits.
“It was probably the hardest job I’ve had to do, ever,” she said.
While living in New York, Bea got the chance to fly to Los Angeles to play in a showcase for a few major record labels.
“It didn’t go the way I expected,” she said. “I came back feeling very, just, defeated. And I was like, why am I even doing this? Nobody gets it — I wrote a song on the plane, and that was basically the last song I wrote for years.”
She decided to switch gears and use her creativity in a different way. Pharrell William’s tour manager, whom she had met in Dallas, connected her with a designer who needed help for a day. That one day’s work turned into two, then three, until she worked her way up to the position of accessories designer for clothing designer Jimmy’z.
Then one day, Bea — four months pregnant — found out the company was closing. It was time to switch gears again.
Bea freelanced for a while and gave birth to her son, Brixton — named after The Clash’s “Guns of Brixton.” When Brixton was about 2 years old, she moved to Syracuse with her then-husband to be near family.
She focused on full-time mom life until an old friend asked her to perform in San Francisco. It was her first time playing in public in nearly seven years.
“I played horribly, but it was so wonderful,” Bea said. “Because I got up on stage and I was like, ‘Why did I stop doing this? I love it. This is where I belong.’”
Her friend, Charley Orlando, local musician and Funk ’n Waffles’ talent director, invited Bea to play between sets.
Now, she said, “Funk ’n Waffles is like my Cheers. I feel very at home there, when I’m playing or not.”
Bea released her album, “Old Habits,” in April. Bringing music back into her life has been wonderful, she said, and becoming part of the Syracuse music scene has been gratifying.
“It’s kind of like this family,” she said. “Everybody is really supportive of each other.”
She needs all the support she can get, because Bea is busy. In addition to writing and performing music and taking care of her son, she has two other jobs: creative lead for local music promotions and talent management company, KMase productions, and cofounder of Nona, a luxury high-end diaper bag line she runs with a former fashion industry coworker.
Named for the Roman goddess of pregnancy, Nona was born out of Bea’s cofounder’s struggle to find an awesome diaper bag. They started working on the project years ago, but they just officially launched this past spring. The hunt for ethical, sustainable materials proved time-consuming.
“Everything down to the elastic on the pockets to the hardware, everything, like the paper for our business cards — we really thought about it and were like, ‘Is this the best we can do at this time?’” Bea said.
Her business partner ended up moving to Bogota, Colombia, where she now oversees the bags’ creation at a local factory.
Currently, Nona makes one style of bag in a brown-and-gray color palette, with a black-and-gray version scheduled to launch this fall. It’s designed for “badass girlboss mamas” who value both their work and personal lives, Bea said.
Basically, it’s designed for moms like her. Her son, Brixton, is now 8 and the joy of her life, an aspiring inventor/engineer/musician. A few years ago, they wrote a song together called “Fixed a Heart.”
He wrote 90 percent of it, Bea said. Carson Daly, you might want to start checking your mail. SWM