Standing on Her Own
By Aida Toro
Ever wondered who the team members behind JLO and Gwen Stefani’s outfits are? Well, Christina Roman of Nevada is one of the Wardrobe Technicians behind the state of the art outfits these artists wear on stage.
“My passion for fashion design was driven as a child...I began making clothes with my twin sister, Carina, and our grandmother,” said Roman. “We’d take items that we packed for our visits to Mexico and recreate our looks for our cousins whom we visited.”
Roman and her twin sister resulted in making and selling scrunchies to their mother’s friends at bingo. Later after graduating high school, Roman’s sister requested that they attend different schools, although their interests were the same. She was essentially forced to choose another path, not just because her twin wanted it, but because her parents could only afford tuition for one of them to attend the International Academy of Design and Technology.
“Though the change wasn’t what I initially wanted, it being a set back in my destined career, I did enjoy attending the Nevada School of Massage Therapy, graduating in seven months with high marks and 100% attendance driving through rainstorms and snow,” said Roman.
After graduating, Roman became certified and licensed to do massage therapy at the Decadence Day Spa which is owned by a family friend, Amanda Nichols. However, she went back to school to get a degree in Fashion Design just so she could have a piece of paper that stated she knew everything in regards to the construction of clothing as well as to providing a reason to have someone consider her for a position as opposed to saying she’s not educated in the fields they may need her for.
“I have mostly life experiences that at times you gain more knowledge from than a single book,” said Roman. “I wanted to make an impression, however, anyone can fake a resume... that’s just not me.”
Schooling ended as Roman had to relocate due to the fact that the school she was attending closed down. She said the school wanted the students to complete ten weeks in five weeks with assignments usually given a week to do to be finished by the next class day which was highly bloody unlikely.
“I couldn’t afford to attend on more days in those weeks and with no time provided to complete homework,” said Roman. “I then relocated and transferred to the Art Institute which was even worse because I was told I had to retake some classes due to some differences in the wording of the class coming from the other school, even though it was the same class... it was primarily an avenue to get more money out of students and profit.”
Roman was told she would have to pay $80,000 back after completing a Bachelor’s degree. After this piece of news, she did not return to the Art Institute. Fast forward to 2006 and Roman began doing what she loved, as her sister told her about an opportunity Best Agency had for a RocaWear event that was held at TAO Nightclub in the Venetian in Las Vegas.
“This event fueled my passion to focus on what I wanted and where I wanted to be in life in my career, so I sought out more employment with that agency and was hired as a model dresser for the fashion shows at the Fashion Show Mall in 2006 through 2014”, she said. “I worked my way up to becoming the Assistant Stylist assisting with pulling for the weekend shows and returning the clothing on Mondays and it was fabulous.”
Roman mentioned that some of the best times of her life included working with all these different stores, watching fashion evolve and change through the many years that she worked at Best Agency. In addition to her team who she considers a family, which was created at Show Central at the Fashion Show Mall, was everything to her. At the end of 2014, Roman’s work schedule changed as she started working for another company due to Best Agency not scheduling her to work, even though she gave the company her dedication and loyalty.
“Anyway, that didn’t stop me,” said Roman. “I was pregnant at the time and was working freelance jobs and would at times try to assist my model friends with outside gigs that came my way... and maybe Best Agency saw that as a conflict.”
Roman mentioned that employees have always been contracted as sole proprietors, which she never really understood.
“It’s ok, as it led me to what I am currently doing which has been an amazing experience thus far,” she said. “Working these residencies has allowed me to connect with many other talented individuals like myself. It’s opened many doors that have given me opportunities to show what I can do and how hard I work.”
Roman has worked as a loader bringing in and out the wardrobe for shows, setting up wardrobe, being a Seamstress, working on alterations on costumes, building from scratch if and when needed, and essentially assisting wherever needed in wardrobe.
“My first job with the Las Vegas residencies was Jennifer Lopez’s, “All I Have”, at the Zappos Theater in Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas,” she said. “I was brought in as a hired Seamstress for a week and left such a great Impression that the Creative Director for the dancers' costumes, Shawn Barton, brought me back to the team shortly after.”
Roman mentioned that Barton gave her the opportunity where she met and exceeded all expectations. Barton saw Roman’s work ethic and listened to her desire to continuing and furthering her career with what she does.
“I’ve learned so much working with her and am very appreciative of her bringing me onto the “All I Have” family, JLo family, and Jennifer Lopez Team,” said Roman. “Working Jennifer’s residency opened the doors to us assisting with her performances locally.”
Roman also had the privilege to work with Pitbull, the Temptations, JT Taylor, and Brittany Spears.
“I did have the privilege in viewing the show and taking a backstage look at how everything was set up and it was amazing...she had wonderful costumes,” she said about Spears. “I will be joining the Backstreet Boys team April 19th and the 20th and I’m excited for that.”
Gwen Stefani’s “Just a Girl” is the newest and current residency that Roman is working as the Assistant Creative Director of the costumes while the show is at the theater. Her twin sister was promoted to lead as she gave her the position not wanting to step on her toes since Roman was presented with the choice of dressing and working with Gwen personally.
“I respect my sister and decided to give her the opportunity...she is my boss after all,” she said. “Though at times I really think back and want to kick myself a bit for that... I stopped the growth that presented itself in front of me...Why?! RESPECT?! Maybe... I know at times it isn’t returned.”
Roman also said Christina Aguilera will be joining them at the theater in May. She is patiently waiting to hear whether or not she will be accepted on Aguilera’s team.
“It is my sister’s choice... as she puts it... she has to ask per seniority who’s available to work and go down the line,” said Roman. “If they are unavailable and their schedule doesn’t work, then I may be asked to work.
Although Roman enjoys her career, there is one life challenge she is experiencing at the moment, which is being accepted by her twin sister.
“I just want to be valued for my talents and in what I do,” expressed Roman. “She always claims to have me as her number two when she’s unavailable, she always pulls me to complete the jobs as she can be comfortable knowing I can represent the company in a way that maybe not everyone can.”
For Roman, it’s been really tough not being seen as her sister’s equal, even though, her twin sister may say she is. She feels her sister does not really act as if she were on the same level as her.
“I don’t know, at times I feel like I need to demand respect but it shouldn’t have to be demanded, it should be said and expressed without any doubt in her mind that I’m valuable,” said Roman about her sister. “Yeah most of the doors and opportunities that have been presented to me have been because of her and the same goes for her.”
Roman also said, “I’ve shown my talents and worth. I may have set back in life if I didn’t have those opportunities, however, knowing me I would have found myself right beside her. I’m a go-getter, I never quit and I don’t settle!”
Previously, Roman said her sister had decided for her that she wouldn’t be attending fashion school with her. She understood her reasoning for wanting to be seen as an individual and truthfully who knows where she would be right now, but she thinks the path played out to where it needed to go.
“I found my way back to where I originally wanted to be in life and in my career and I respect that,” she said. “I respect my twin sister and the many opportunities she’s given me along the way.”
Roman has shown her worth and value. All she wants is to be looked at as her sister’s equal and not beneath her. Partners through and through, equivalently representing talents in all different areas, however equally the same, she said.
Roman, however, discovered that she has a following that she wasn’t aware of. She believes she has that following due to how she represents herself and of course through the connections she’s made.
“I put myself out there and now I’m slowly finding out I have a following and it’s brought a lot to my attention in odd areas,” she said. “My ultrasound technician was one of them and she asked if I know someone and I said yes... she told me she follows me and...wow...what a small world.”
Working fashion events has caused Roman to meet many people which assisted her to build a following that she didn’t think she would develop, even though she is a hard worker. She never really thought much of herself, especially after being bullied and abused as a child.
“It really made me a self-conscious person, but that’s another story for another day,” she said. “These experiences have been eye-opening and I’m very thankful for that.”
Roman is also a mother. Balancing motherhood and work has been rough, however, the support her parents have provided her with has been a lifesaver.
“But most importantly ... my mom, she is the number one person in my life, my biggest blessing I can ever have and I appreciate her so much,” she said. “Without her, none of this would’ve been possible. She watches my boys while I work, she’s been by my side experiencing many work blessings with me. Assisting me to dress “the Original Cover Girl” at their promotional shoot and I was the featured designer.”
Roman said she also has her youngest son’s father Kevin Burghardt co-parenting, who is currently living with her and her sons. She said he is there for the boys when she is away at work and can be that father figure they need when she is not available to help.
“He makes it more manageable for me and also for my mom so she can have time for herself since her children are already grown,” she said.
Roman looks forward to leaving a positive mark in her career, professional life, and relationships. She also hopes to build an empire for her sons and showing them all of the possibilities success has to offer.
“I want them to know that wherever their footsteps take them, I will be there along the way supporting them every way I can,” she said. “As they do for me, they are very understanding and I appreciate them.”
She also looks forward to working on the current situation she is experiencing with her sister.
“I have to continue to show my sister I can stand on my own and be an equal ...I no longer want to hide in that shadow she’s put me behind,” she said. “I just have to continue to learn to maybe separate myself from her and be an individual, not just her twin or her sister, but a talented designer, Production Assistant, and Alterations Manager.”