East Bay, California Guide with Bianca Sotelo

28 April

If you aren’t following Bianca of @afabchallenge, you must. She’s been a favorite of mine for quite some time. Her work is unique and refreshing, and always inspiring me to rearrange my apartment. Her discerning eye has created a very distinct style– one of those accounts you know who the photo belongs to before seeing the handle.

If you’re just meeting her for the first time, she’s a local prop and interior stylist who works with publications like Sunset Magazine, Lonny, and Rue. Her knack for creating a beautiful and cohesive setting is one to note, so I figured she’d have some great taste in a handful of haunts in the bay area. Here’s a little bit more about Bianca and a few places to bookmark if you’re a local, or planning to spend some time in the East Bay!

All images from her beautiful portfolio

Name: Bianca Sotelo
Age: 29
Location: Alameda
Current occupation/job: Photo Stylist + Creative Consultant

What does a typical day look like for you?

Well, the only day that is consistent, week after week, is Monday. I specialize in social media marketing, so Mondays are the day I do reports and content scheduling for my clients. Most other days I’m sourcing online, answering emails, creating moodboards and organizing logistics for photoshoots. Styling is 80% pre-production, 20% on-set work. It’s like studying for a really big test — you only get one opportunity, so everything has to be prepared, approved and ready to go for the big day.

Lightbulb moment that navigated you to where you are now.

I was honestly just unhappy. I was producing content under someone else’s brand and watching it flourish. I got to a point where I had to start creating content for myself. I told myself, the worst thing that could happen if I quit my job, is that I “fail” as a freelancer and have to find another 9-5. The world, despite my fears, will not end. So, I went for it. I was lucky to have work from day 1, and I’ve never looked back. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made and I encourage everybody, no matter their industry to go for it. For example, I keep pushing my bestie to go freelance as a tech publicist! Just do it!

3 people who inspire you…

Oh my, oh man! I’m inspired by my friends, mostly, just inspired by the type of human beings they are.  But if you’re looking for the more traditional answer, I’m googly eyes for Christine Dovey, Nicole Cohen, and Studio Mondine. They all have a really unique point of view and create super epic shit.

Words to live by…

Find the balance that makes YOU happy. Be relatable and professional. Remember, sweet girl, that room in Arch Digest cost 500k dollars.

A perfect weekend looks something like this…

Exploring a cute town. It must be warm outside, and my boyfriend and I are moseying around, sipping on cappuccinos and popping in and out of cute shops.

Where are the best places to shop?

I love Elsie Green (a warehouse jam-packed with French antiques), Maison D’etre is always fun to peruse (they have napkins, bath and kitchen stuff, and I bet you’ll leave with something!) and The Gardener (I just remembered I have a gift card to their shop in my wallet, bai, goin’ shoppin!).

Top 3 favorite dinner spots.

This is literally the hardest interview EVER. Cosecha and Tacubaya for THE best Mexican food in the East Bay and Duende for date night (skip their paella, and just order every single thing off of their tapas menu, cava and dessert!).

Top 3 favorite lunch spots.

Cosecha (again), Southie has the best sandwichs in the world and can I say Tacolicious even though it’s not in my hood?

Best spot for cocktails with friends.

Ok, this one is a true hidden gem: Alameda’s American Oak. They have an upstairs mezzanine lounge and the yummiest cocktails.

Wine bar you can’t miss.

I’d typically head to a beer garden before a wine bar. That said, if you haven’t tasted at Berkeley’s Broc Cellars, it’s pretty yummy.

Favorite workout / must try for out of towners.

Hands down, Ritual Hot Yoga.

Noteworthy coffee shop.

My favorite, “daily cup of jo”, “not-for-the-‘gram”, “best coffee in Oakland” is Coloso Coffee. Walk a few blocks over to Donut Savant and you have yourself one of the BEST “meals” money can buy.

Prettiest views.

I love Lake Merritt… in the morning, on Saturday’s after the farmer’s market, on a warm evening when the cafe lights around it’s perimeter begin to twinkle, no matter when it’s always good.

Favorite thing about where you live.

The convenience! I can get anywhere I need go in 5-7 minutes and I can find parking which is one of life’s luxuries in the highly populated Bay Area. The East Bay is void of  San Francisco’s crazy, hustle and bustle — thank goodness. Basically, I’m 29 going on 80, and I’m not ashamed.

Thanks so much for sharing your favorites, Bianca!