- Sun Clips
Words by: Molly Lee-Teng
Photography by: Josh Spencer
You can’t help but instantly like Norel Mancuso. She’s got stories to tell and knows how to make them sparkle. Let’s start with the elephantine cat in the room: the massive portrait in her Palm Springs living room. The thrifted piece acts as a rite of passage to friendship, making cameos in a collection of Polaroid selfies of her and guests taken just beneath the behemoth feline — itself not-to-subtly posing for the moment. Everyone in those Polaroids has become her “forever friend”, as she puts it. It’s worth noting not only does Norel not have a cat, she doesn’t even like them.
“But I do like admiring them,” Norel says. “I’ve always been one to admire things from afar. Even if that's people, places, or things. I don’t need a cat to admire the way that they are.”
Norel is the President and CEO of Social House, a strategic content and influencer agency she started pre-Instagram. Her roster of clients expectedly contain stories within themselves (see: repositioning Playboy’s global content for a modern audience). And while the past 12+ years at Social House has led to undoubtable success, her next tale is a more recent success story.
In the midst of a global lockdown, “I found my soulmate.”
After a chance encounter at a party, Norel told a friend, “I’m going to marry her. She just doesn’t know it yet.” Bittersweet as it is, the cleared out social calendar and forced solitude gave Norel and her now fiancée (she called it), Aubrey, the chance to “shut out the world and get to know each other without having to go to the next restaurant or the next party.”
The duo are a dream team: branding extraordinaire meets fashion stylist, Aries meets Gemini, self-proclaimed “weirdos”, now tag-teaming the world of house flipping. Their most recently completed flip is a 200-year-old home on the East Coast that was as much a history lesson as anything else — when they opened up the walls of the home, they found horse hair and hay. Apparently, the insulation of choice back in the day. They’re now onto less barnyard-reliant projects in LA-escape cities like Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, and Idyllwild.
With the addition of Aubrey and their rescued Chinese Crested Terrier, Cash (whom you should know is a Saggitarius with Naomi Campbell-esque attitude), the next untold story Norel shares is sure to be a tale for the ages. When it comes to Norel and her crew, don’t be surprised about being surprised.
“It was a long road to get here, life wasn’t always perfect. But shit’s okay. Life’s good.”
We’re all ears.