Leandra Medine: How did you meet?
Lisa Salzer, founder of Lulu Frost and George Frost: We met right here, in this exact space, about five years ago when Lulu Frost first moved into the studio. We had a summer keg party with a reggae band and Marlon came.
Marlon Taylor-Wiles, dancer and partner in George Frost: I came through a friend of a friend of a friend. It was one of those moments where you’re at a really cool party and someone hits you up like, “Yo, there’s a party,” then you hit someone up like, “Yo, there’s a party,” you know? When I heard about it, I called eight of my dancer buddies and we mobbed up here.
Lisa: I remember looking over at this crowded party and seeing a group of strangers, all dancing perfectly, like really cool people. I said, “Oh, my party’s dope, this is awesome! Who are these guys?” It was funny, an ex-boyfriend of mine was here, so of course I was off having an important conversation. Marlon couldn’t find me, which is key to the story.
Marlon: I saw you dancing with a group of friends and my buddies were like, “We should go dance with those girls.” And I was like, “Who’s that girl?”
Lisa: But you couldn’t find me.
Marlon: Yes, because you were in your situation.
Lisa: I had misheard the reggae bandleader’s price quote because of his accent. I thought he said it was $500 for the night for a six-piece band. At the end of the night I was feeling generous and went over and gave them a big tip on top of the price quote. The bandleader laughed and said, “Oh no, baby girl, it’s much higher.” So I had to go out and get some cash from an ATM and on the way back in I saw Marlon and his buddies leaving. It was just happenstance that we ran into each other.
Marlon: Then she gave me the wrong phone number.
Lisa: Truly a mistake. Not deliberately at all.
Marlon: She gave me the phone number and I called immediately, but it didn’t work. And I was like, “Salzer, this number’s not working, what’s up?” Then she gave me the right number and it took us a while to connect because I was on tour, in and out, on tour and you [Lisa] were doing your other things. Finally, we connected, I think, two months later.
Lisa: We dated a little bit and I just didn’t know if Marlon liked me — I couldn’t tell because he was quite friendly but it didn’t feel flirtatious. But he was waiting for me to make the moves. Finally, the night we went to see an IMAX film —
Marlon: The Lion King!
Lisa: That’s when I thought, “I think this guy likes me.” You know, he took me to a special 3D movie.
Marlon: No, what it was, was–
Leandra: But that wasn’t your first date.
Lisa: No, it was probably just the second date.
Leandra: Because in my opinion, a movie is a very lazy first date.
Marlon: Hold on, hold on, hold on.
Lisa: The first date was Shake Shack.
Marlon: Shake Shack in the park, which was awesome. The second date we went out with your friend. I don’t remember that friend’s name now. That was the second date.
Lisa: So the third date was the movie.
Marlon: But also, I was in London and went to a jewelry exhibit and brought you back that catalogue and that was a key.
Lisa: That’s when I knew, yeah. At the IMAX movie, he gave me a catalogue about a jewelry exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. And I just thought, “This guy cares.”
Leandra: What initially attracted you to her? Why were you so compelled to get her number that first night?
Lisa: Say it in a nice way.
Marlon: Um, she has rhythm.
Leandra: What about you, Lisa? When did you know?
Lisa: It was when we made eye contact downstairs. I really saw a big sparkle in his eyes. I felt that his soul seemed very nice — he seemed like a nice person, even from that one moment.
Leandra: It’s so funny that you say that because I really do believe that you can always tell. You can always detect kindness.
Lisa: I think that’s why I was so taken aback — there didn’t seem to be a romantic motive. He just seemed really kind so it almost struck me as friendship intention. It caught me off-guard, in a good way. So the sparkly eyes and the nice, kind soul.
Leandra: So, it’s been four and a half years, you’re fairly newly married. What was it like until marriage?
Lisa: Well, we lived separately at first. I was on 13th between 5th and University and there was a lot of construction going on by me, which made me want to move quickly. About a year in, I moved in with Marlon in the West Village and I had never lived with a guy before so I was really nervous about that. I kept hearing my old, traditional mom saying, “Don’t live with someone until you’re engaged!” But I realized that was stupid because I was in love with Marlon and I wanted to see if we could live well together.
We were deep enough in that we knew we were a good match. Then we blended our stuff and the apartment got really cool.
Marlon: I think it’s just a joy living with another creative. We have a very similar aesthetic and I think we both understand our journeys.
Lisa: I really live for Marlon’s creativity and his dance talent is so inspiring to me that I think we just support each other and want each other to become the best that we can be, as artists. It’s not always easy because artists can be temperamental and emotional and have really strong opinions. We’re also both water signs; Marlon’s Cancer, I’m Scorpio, and we’re both sensitive and emotional and have very, very strong opinions on what looks good and what doesn’t. But we also respect each other’s opinions tremendously.
Leandra: That’s an important quality, right? Respect. What were some of the most difficult things, or new things, you learned about each other when you first moved in together?
Marlon: I’m a neat freak.
Lisa: I’m not.
Marlon: When Lisa comes home, she wants to relax. When she has a crazy work day, she wants to take off her clothes and get on the couch. Whereas I come home and I take off my clothes then fold them, and if something’s dirty, it goes in the laundry. That was the jump for me, living with someone who’s not like me. Also, I hate wrinkles.
Lisa: And I couldn’t care less. It’s the overall impression that matters. But that’s been a huge learning curve for both of us because he’s had to up his tolerance for clothes and towels on the floor. For me, it’s like, “Oh, that’s good, I can see the towels there.”
Marlon: You can find them in the closet, too.
Leandra: And what about for you?
Lisa: Same thing. Marlon is — I don’t want to call it–
Lisa: But it’s cool! We live very well together and it feels like a perpetual sleepover with your best friend.
Leandra: Were there any breaks pre-marriage?
Lisa: In our relationship? No, never. Once that IMAX film hit, we were inseparable.
Leandra: That was it. No doubts or anything like that?
Lisa: Not at all. Super in love.
Leandra: When did you know?
Lisa: So, after the IMAX film, I was ready to give up on this dude because during the whole film, we didn’t hold hands — nothing. I was like, “This is stupid.”
He wanted me to be aggressive but that’s not me. So we walked out and I was like, “let’s just get a drink.” We go to Penn Station because that was the closest location and went to an Irish bar inside the train station. We were the only two people in there except for one dude who missed his train and was drinking it off, then all of a sudden, we become a force chatting with this guy, and Marlon put his hand around my waist and that’s when I was like, “Oh my god, I like this guy!” Then he made me kiss him and I did.
Marlon: That’s not true!
Lisa: I think it is.
Leandra: What does that mean?
Lisa: He just didn’t come to me.
Marlon: We were face to face and it just happened.
Lisa: Fine. So, we kissed for a while, probably for 20 minutes — one of those great New York make out sessions on a street corner.
Leandra: Explosive from the inside out!
Lisa: And finally, I tore myself away and I see this cab that had been sitting there. I get into it all bewildered and excited and all that, and the guy goes, “I have been watching you for a very long time”.
Leandra: Ha! But then what? Was he like, “Are you going to marry that guy?”
Lisa: He didn’t say another word the whole time. I was like, “Thank you?”
Leandra: So, at what point did you become business partners?
Marlon: Maybe two years into our relationship? I have a background in fashion. I used to work for Ralph Lauren, then did some work with vintage. I was working with my late mentor, his name was Bobby Garnnett, and he was like the king of vintage — best guy ever. So, I had a particular aesthetic, I knew what I liked and what men liked. And when Lisa and I got together, she had a small men’s line.
Lisa: Yeah, we were doing stuff for our Japanese clientele because we sell a lot over there, and the men’s team from whatever store we were selling to asked for a vintage pendant. But I never put much thought into it or made a collection. It was re-working vintage for men. Marlon saw me working and was like, “Oh, maybe you should try that or add that in,” and the ideas were great — so we re-named the collection George Frost, which is my grandfather’s name, and George is also Marlon’s father’s name, and now it’s been three years.
Leandra: What are some of the challenges in working together?
Marlon: Well, I’m coming from a place where possibilities are endless in terms of how to make things. I’m like, “Oh! We can do that,” and Lisa steps in and says, “No, we can’t do that with the given time constraints on production.”
Lisa: Or money.
Marlon: So I’m starting to realize those constraints and what I can actually design, and what’s possible, and what’s not possible for a year later or six months.
Leandra: But you’re also a dancer?
Lisa: That’s his soul.
Marlon: When I was in sixth grade, I was in the choir and I got a flyer to be an extra in “The Nutcracker.” I didn’t know what that was, didn’t know what ballet was, but I went to an audition, did all the steps they told me to do and at the audition, they said, “Hey, you’re really talented, let’s give you a full scholarship to ballet school and if you want to take it, take it.”
And my mom and dad were like, “Alright, let’s try it!” My teachers said stuff like, “Look, this can help you play sports,” and they told my parents, “this can help with discipline,” not that I had discipline problems, but being in a dance class for two hours and trying to focus at twelve, thirteen years old is a challenge. You want to hang out with your buddies, not go to ballet class after school for two hours then have homework for two hours, so I was missing out on some things.
Then one of my teachers took me to Houston Ballet and I saw this dancer named Carlos Acosta. This guy was doing the craziest shit that I’d ever seen. He was doing multiple turns in the air; it was like watching ice skating but not having that much momentum to do those tricks. He had this crazy passion and you saw him on stage with this woman and I was like, “Damn, I want to do that!” And that’s when I was like, alright, this is something I need to do for a really long time.
Then I moved to New York and joined a contemporary ballet company and was there for about six years. I left and started my own work.
Leandra: As a freelance dancer?
Marlon: I have an agent who gets me more commercial jobs — TV-type stuff. Then I have a little dance collective that I choreograph and creative direct. It’s called Flying Under the Radar.
Leandra: How do you balance George Frost and the dancing?
Lisa: That’s a challenge right now.
Marlon: Well, there’s her schedule and my schedule. I usually design jewelry for George Frost at night, dance in the day and then throughout the day I’m answering emails from here [the design studio] and there [the dance collective]. It’s like, “Dadadadada, yes, approved. Lis, can you approve this? Lisa, what do you think?” It’s hard, it’s multitasking, but that’s 2016. It is what it is.
Leandra: Well, I have a theory that multitasking doesn’t exist — we can’t actually do multiple things at once, it just doesn’t work.
Lisa: Exactly, that’s really true and you just fail at it all. You just have to line up 20 different things in the day and accomplish them.
Leandra: That’s the thing; you’re not actually failing, but when you’re sitting in a dance studio and answering an email, what you’re actually doing is emailing, not dancing.
Where are you guys from?
Lisa: I’m from Long Island.
Marlon: Houston, Texas.
Leandra: Do you spend time in Texas with his family?
Marlon: We go during “Nutcracker” season.
Lisa: We go with Marlon’s dad and his two sisters.
Leandra: And Marlon, do you spend a lot of time with her family in Long Island?
Lisa: Yes, a lot.
Leandra: The woman always wins, huh?
Lisa: Somehow. I’m glad, because my family is so close, and he’s super close to them as well. My sister has four kids and it’s just…it’s nice. Marlon is a super important part of the family.
Leandra: Have you had to deal with any of the familial hurdles that sometimes appear for interracial couples?
Marlon: My mom was kind of like, “Eh?’” Like, “What’s up?” But with that–
Lisa: And also she’s from the deep south, so–
Marlon: She’s from Louisiana. And my mom was also a part of an era that was tense! There was like a lot of shit happening that was like, yo, white people are probably not our enemy, but they’re not our people.
So you have my mom, who grew up in the deep south. Then you have my dad, who’s Jamaican. He’s Rastafarian Jamaican and his perspective is: spread love, I don’t care who you date, as long as she’s nice, you’re good. But even though my mom was a little hesitant at first, she’s fine.
Lisa: She’s loving; she supports our relationship.
Marlon: But it was also like, my entire life my parents put me in situations that accommodated diversity. So I was always open to a lot of different cultures.
Lisa: I feel like your mom really respects my business. She’s always like, “I see you on the internet, I know what you’re up to.”
Marlon: She just didn’t want me with someone lazy or who wasn’t going to help push me.
Lisa: To be your best.
Marlon: So, there was that. But there was one time we were in Louisiana, and we were walking through Walmart with my nieces and nephew, and there were just so many stares. And we’re walking and I’m like, “Lisa, this is kind of crazy, I’ve never been looked at like this.” And Lisa’s like, “I know, it’s really weird.” And my niece is like, “Uncle Marlon, don’t worry, y’all are different. They’re just curious, they don’t know about y’all. They don’t know about the fashion, Uncle Marlon. Y’all are fashion, they don’t know about it.”
It was really funny to hear that coming from someone who’s 12.
Leandra: And also that race didn’t even cross her mind.
Lisa: But you know, especially now, it is really important that we are a proud interracial couple because our country is really skewed. And I think I should say this: before dating Marlon I don’t think I realized how unfair our country acts towards minorities. I was led to believe that everything was fine, which is the privilege of being white. And I’m realizing that now — that I didn’t have to worry about the same problems that I carry now. I’m proud of our relationship for so many reasons, but one of them is that we support each other, and we want people to see that skin color should not be a deterring factor in any reason for someone’s success, or love, or happiness, or anything, really.
Marlon: Right. And we have a really great and diverse group of friends and we have these discussions all the time.
Lisa: Yeah, we talk a lot. And it’s not always easy.
Marlon: It’s important to open dialogue, and to let me let you know what’s really happening. Because otherwise, you wouldn’t know. Why would you know? Open dialogue is key.
Lisa: And not being scared to talk about what we’ve experienced, or what we haven’t experienced. That lack of understanding causes so much of the tension and so many problems.
Leandra: Was your familial response, “He’s great, we love him!”
Marlon: What’d your mom say, like she thought you were gonna marry a Jamaican?
Lisa: My mom, when I was young, used to tell me, “You’re gonna marry a black guy, maybe Jamaican.”
She always had a strong affinity for African American culture. And I remember when Marlon first came to meet my sister’s kids. At the time, the youngest boy was probably five or six — and like I said, I grew up in Long Island in a primarily white community. Of the people who graduated from my high school class of 2000 people, I think maybe two were black. So I guess my sister’s son had never had a black person in his house, which didn’t mean anything to him; there is nothing else ascribed to that statement. There were no political or social ramifications to that. So when he met Marlon, they were hanging out and playing some with race cars, and after maybe ten minutes of playing, he goes, “Marlon, you’re really cool, you have cool hair and cool brown skin, and you’re just cool.” And he just said it in like a truly observational way. As in, I like the way you look. And that was an interesting moment, where you see just the innocence of children who are not yet tainted by the social and political structure that we grow up with in this country.
Marlon: I think, overall, your sister and her husband and your parents are open people. And children only express what they’re taught and what they see.
Leandra: A child’s mind is so unique. It’s creatively fertile, and still free from societal pollution.
Lisa: Yes, it’s incredible.
Leandra: I’m very excited to have children.
Lisa: Yeah, so are we!
Leandra: Are you thinking about it?
Lisa: Yeah. We always have been. Since the beginning we’ve been like, ‘Wow, we have to meet our kids.’
Leandra: So what have you found to be some of the more difficult things about being in a relationship, and maybe more acutely being married? Difficult first, and then we’ll top it off with great.
Marlon: For a while I had an issue of not talking. Being a dancer for my entire life, you don’t really complain a lot.
Lisa: This is a big thing. I’m a big complainer.
Marlon: And when there’s a problem, you put your head down and get through it.
Leandra: Do you feel like it like minimizes the problem when you don’t talk about it?
Marlon: I do.
Lisa: I think if it’s a physical thing, complaining doesn’t really make it better, it makes it worse. And I’m trying to do that less, just trying to focus on being more grateful for what works, which is crucial. And I think one cool thing that we do together is a meditation technique which is all about feeling grateful for what you already have. And those positive feelings bring more good into your life, when people truly believe in and have supported each other reaching their dreams. So, I respect that you don’t complain. That is inspiring to me, but it’s not in my nature to do that. I’m used to complaining about everything. It almost makes me feel better to complain. But when we get into an argument, that technique does not work. We need to be communicative and talk.
Marlon: And I realized that. Over time, I realized that. We listen to Louise Hay, who is bring on the power of thoughts.
A lot of the times, the people we become are because of who we were as kids. Example — you may have been told in a really stern way that you were sucky at art as a kid, so immediately that confidence is squashed and you don’t want to touch it again. They crush that creativity. But you could be the best artist in the world, the confidence has just been killed, so with Hays, she talks you through a lot learning to self-love and respect. Sometimes you have to look at a mirror and say, “Damn, I look good today.” Express love to feel love.
Lisa: And it comes back to the relationship when we talk about why and how we’re different. But at the end of the day, we need to realize that we deserve to be happy and in love. So, we have to work on that, and prioritize it.
Marlon: One common goal that we have in our relationship is to be in love and to be happy, you know?
Lisa: Well, we’re in love no matter what. But to get along better, and have less of the bullshit fighting. To co-exist.
Leandra: The thing with complaining — it only further perpetuates what’s upsetting you. And I sort of appreciate not complaining about something, and how that might minimize its effect on your life and the world you’re building around you.
Lisa: Yeah, exactly. And I think it really comes down to, I never think I understood the phrase like, pick and choose your battles before, but I think that’s really key for me. Sometimes it’s just not worth talking about something so miniscule. Like, “Did I detect a tone in your voice when you told me my shirt was ok to wear?” Like, it’s not there. If you said you like the shirt, you like the shirt. I tend to read too much other meaning into tones of voice. But then sometimes the tone of voice reveals a lot, and it needs to be discussed. So I think it’s about deciding when discussion is warranted.
Leandra: And what do you think are some of the great things you’ve taught each other?
Lisa: Marlon has taught me to be more chill in a major way. Marlon is very happy with his place in the world, and that’s powerful.
And I tend to be more self-critical, and just not living as much in the now.
Leandra: That’s like unilateral Jewish guilt!
Lisa: I know, why is that? Why do we have that? I think the great thing is that I might criticize myself for being critical about myself, and Marlon is like, ‘Just be who you are.’ So he’s helped me tremendously to just be who I am, be happy with who I am. And that helps me become the best artist I can be, which is my real goal in this life, you know, to create good work that people enjoy and love to wear. I know I’m a good person, I know I’m a good family member. My struggle is, am I a good enough artist? Am I creating enough art that people love? And he helps me feel good about that, at every given phase of my growth. So that’s really important.
Leandra: What do you feel like is a great thing that Lisa’s taught you?
Marlon: Oh, there’s so many! I think one is, Lisa talks too much, and I don’t talk enough. I think that’s been a great, great thing that I’ve learned by being in a relationship with her. And also just seeing the way she runs her business, being a creator of multiple things. Knowing how to delegate things to people, knowing how to answer things in a timely fashion so they don’t get lost in the cracks. And that has compelled what I do to the next level. But also just like, Lisa’s a pretty positive, amazing person. And waking up next to someone who’s very positive and motivated, you can only feed off that energy. Because, you know, everyone’s like, I gotta go to New York, cause then I can prove myself to myself. And waking up next to someone who’s done that twelve years straight, it’s like this constant…key.
Leandra: So I like to end these interviews by asking, what advice would you give to someone who’s looking for love, or who is in a new relationship?
Lisa: Love yourself, first. You’ve got to love yourself. You have to work on yourself. If you don’t love yourself, be single and work on that. That’s it. It’s not about Tinder, or going out every night, it’s not about getting drunk so you’re more social.
Leandra: Yup, those are the numbing mechanisms.
Lisa: The numbing mechanisms that don’t let you look at what’s going on in your heart. And that could mean therapy, that could mean meditation, it could mean yoga, that could mean talking to your family and friends more, or just waiting until you feel ready for a relationship. But you have to let yourself.
Marlon: That, and if you’re in a relationship — communication.
Lisa: If you’re looking for love?
Marlon: No, she said already in a relationship, in the beginning of a relationship. It’s the key to building the relationship, to building trust. Talking things out.
I have a friend right now, she’s been dating a guy for six months, and she’s like, I need to ask him if he wants to be with just me or if he’s dating other people.
And I said, “Damn right — you need to be up front, like if you find that you really like this guy and you want to be in a committed relationship with him, you need to talk to him about this. Because if he doesn’t know if you want to be in a committed relationship, he might just be doing his own thing.”
Lisa: But that also comes back to loving yourself. Because, who would want that? If you respect yourself and love yourself, and you want a relationship, you ask for that, and you’re confident that if he couldn’t deliver that, he’s not for you. And the consequence might be that you’re solo, but that’s, I think better than being in a relationship with someone doesn’t respect you. Love thyself.
Shop Lulu Frost here and then go follow the brand and Lisa on Instagram @lulu_frost. Then go check out Marlon’s website here and follow hi on Instagram @marlontaylorwiles, too. Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis, graphics by Emily Zirimis.