business

MY INTERVIEW WITH CEO AND LUXURY SHOE DESIGNER ON THE RISE, SHATIARRA MONROE OF SHATIARRA MONROE COLLECTION

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE, FEATURING SHATIARRA MONROE

Designer and CEO Shatiarra Monroe modeling her   Feb 14. shoe  . Brand images by  Stewdio Photography .

Designer and CEO Shatiarra Monroe modeling her Feb 14. shoe. Brand images by Stewdio Photography.

If you follow fashion and you’re from my city, you’ve probably seen poppin’ women all over your timeline completing their fits with a pair of signature feathery lace up heels by Shatiarra Monroe Collection. Launching on Valentines Day this year, the online shoe company captured the attention of many with a sultry shoe campaign and has since been growing a tribe of women all over Baltimore who love pairing the brand’s 4 inch showstoppers with their flyest fits. I got to witness the growth as a long time Instagram follower of Shatiarra’s.

I initially took notice of Shatiarra’s account due to her sexy yet classy personal style (plus, she’s gorg) but I began really keeping up when she announced that she was working on something BIG. She definitely wasn’t wrong… and if you know me, you know I’m always on the lookout for new brands to connect with and support, especially ones that are owned by young black women. So It was only right that I reach out to the woman behind the brand. I’m so honored to be the first to interview Shatiarra on behalf of her shoe collection! Check out our interview below as we talk her inspiration, the pros and cons of owning and building her business, and the lessons she's learned on her journey so far.

Sharra: So, I've been following you on IG for quite some time ( I think even since we were both in high school, tbh) and I've always thought you were such a doll! A while back, I noticed your eye for statement pieces, sleek hairstyles, and a soft glam beat. That's what initially attracted me to check out your page because I honestly felt that your style reminded me a little of my own. When did you first take a real interest in fashion and style?

Shatiarra: Aww thanks, it’s amazing to hear that there’s someone who’ve watched me over the years and paid attention to detail and it’s even more fulfilling knowing that the person…well you, are such a beautiful spirit. I value that acknowledgement because I am a person who pays attention to detail. I’ve been into fashion for like ever. My challenge has always been trying to find an item that I thought up.

As I child I’d wear the little cha-cha slides from Walmart and I had them in all colors but I’d try to hook them up with my clothes and it was hard because my slides were lit and my clothes weren’t lit so I then had to make my basic clothes into lit clothes. Fast forward to like high school and I’d make bows to wear with my uniforms and do something crazy with my hair. Every phase of my life displays me trying to work with what I have to get the image I want to portray.

Model  Cori Bullock  wearing the AG shoe, coming soon to  ShatiarraMonroe.com .

Model Cori Bullock wearing the AG shoe, coming soon to ShatiarraMonroe.com.

Sharra: You’re so welcome! So, In today's social media world, there are so many people launching fast fashion clothing boutiques (which we love, but let's face it, there are sooo many, it can be a real challenge to stand out amongst competition). What inspired you to go a different route and take on the task of creating a luxury shoe line in your early twenties?

Shatiarra: I use to feel like I wouldn’t excel at having a successful business because I wouldn’t satisfy everyone. Everything changed the moment I decided that I would just be myself, produce products that I absolutely love, and value myself. That’s it. It sounds cocky but I don’t aim to please anyone. I envision designs and scratch the itch that I get from that. Then, I put in the work to get that idea into something tangible.

This inspires me because I see designers put the bare minimum into their brands, but they are popular or they have a following so, it sells. Imagine if the quality and overall design was as lit as the person behind it all. That’s where I found my lane because I am that. I love everyone who supports my collection because everything I put out and plan to put out is precious to me and to know the world is accepting of it is very comforting for me and it’s the push that keeps me going to continue to grow my collection.

Sharra: You make a good point as far as a lot of people half doing something and having it pop off for them. But I like to think that authenticity always wins so as long as you’re authentic, I feel like there will always be that tribe of supporters that relate to your vision. What do you believe sets your brand apart from other luxury shoe lines out there?

Shatiarra: I believe I am set apart from other luxury shoe brands because I am not trying to fit in. Everyone says this but here’s the kicker, I also do not care to stand out. It’s like a middle ground that I found myself in and not a lot of shoe designers are able to be here. Either a shoe is giving everything and more or it’s pretty basic. Nothing is wrong with that either, but I find myself completely separate from both, yet satisfying, either way a person wants to go, and it’s not something I aim for or that I ever have the intention of doing. It’s just how my personality has seemed to show face in my work.

Shoe styles:    Feb 14    &    Premier   .

Shoe styles: Feb 14 & Premier.

Sharra: That’s a cool middle ground to have. I feel like finding that happy medium between elaborate and super simple designs diversifies the type of people who are attracted to your product… So, the city of Baltimore is often rumored to be/associated with being full of people who have an unsupportive, "crabs in a barrel" mentality. So I HAVE TO ASK, upon launching, did you experience this at all or did you receive the support that you wanted and expected with birthing and selling your own collection?

Shatiarra: So, I did not experience this when I launched and if it did take place it was nothing that I was aware of. I only paid attention and gravitated to the love. Maybe if I chose an industry that was over saturated or popular in our city, I probably would have seen a disconnect from the support that I expected vs. the support that I got, but I don’t know anyone in our city with a shoe collection that they personally designed. If so, I’d love to meet them. I love to see people into the same thing that I’m into.

Sharra: I love your perspective on that. Only focusing and gravitating to the love literally can cut the number of distractions in half. So, you describe your own personal style as "elegant and classy with a hint of edginess". Is there anyone who heavily inspires your personal style? Possibly, a style icon or public figure that you would love to style in a pair of your signature shoes?

Shatiarra: Believe it or not, I find inspiration everywhere. I’m into Pinterest and I save bookmarks on Instagram of so many different looks and ideas. I can’t pin point a particular person because I take bits and pieces from absolutely everywhere. I’m just like anyone else when it comes to their business, I want my shoe collection to be spotted on some of the greatest. The issue with people like myself is that after that occurs, it will still always be an accomplishment I’ll find myself always trying to achieve. Right now, I like to look at like “instagram famous” models and determine who I would want to do promo for my shoes. I have a promo strategy that the models love and I look to reach out to larger IG models with a similar approach.

Sharra: Reaching out to those with a strong presence and personal brand on IG is definitely a good move on your part because even though I’ve been following you for a long time, seeing your product on girls all around the city, all over my explore page is what really opened my eyes to how fast your brand is catching on, which is so dope. So, how has your life changed since launching Shatiarra Monroe Shoe Collection and what are 2 lessons you've learned from being a business owner, one personal and one professional?

Shatiarra modeling her  AG shoe , coming soon to  ShatiarraMonroe.com .

Shatiarra modeling her AG shoe, coming soon to ShatiarraMonroe.com.

Shatiarra: OMG, you’d be amazed at the major lessons I’ve learned since launching because it’s not what a lot of people are vocal about when it comes to the cons. I’ve learned that I like the friends that I acquired through business more than I like my lifelong friends and relatives. It’s a breath of fresh air meeting people who think like me because although I love the people closest to me, we all are not necessarily on the same page when it comes to making moves, otherwise we would all be winning big right now.

A professional lesson that I’ve learned is that profit is not going to come right away. I used to hear this all day but as a business, of course your goal is to make a profit and if I’m selling then I felt like I should see my profit right away. But no… and people don’t talk about why but it just doesn’t happen that way. The money comes 2nd. You have to love what you do first, and this is how I run my collection. Remembering the love that I have for what I’m doing is how I find resolution in that lesson.

Sharra: YES! You a real one for bringing that up because like you said, it’s something that’s almost taboo when it comes to new business owners and creatives entrepreneurs so I’m glad that you were able to learn that lesson early and still keep going. Last but not least, I peeped an accessories tab on the site, is that something we should be looking out for soon or will you be adding accessories to your inventory way later on down the line?

Shatiarra: Accessories are coming very soon. I plan to have 20 items on my site by the end of the summer. I have so many ideas so right now my dilemma is organizing it all. I will venture into clothing and accessories eventually but my primary focus will remain on creating luxury women shoes.

~Thank you so much for chopping it up with me, Shatiarra! I’m so excited to see what your future holds, girly! All love!

Like what you see? Click here Shop Shatiarra Monroe Collection! Follow the shoe page to keep up with future releases and follow Shatiarra on Instagram for more glimpses of her day to day life and her bomb personal style!

Hope you guys enjoyed this interview! More content coming very soon to the Walking Art Blog. Stay tuned!

Sharra,

“The definition of walking art.”

CONVOS WITH CLAIRE NYC 2018 RECAP! MAJOR NETWORKING VIBES AND INSIGHT FROM THE INDUSTRY'S BEST

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE & PHOTOS BY LAURENCE JAMES

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So, this past weekend, I attended the well-anticipated Convos With Claire fashion networking mixer. I’m pretty sure most know who trailblazing fashion media maven Claire Sulmers is (especially if you follow posts on here because she’s my role model) , but for those of you who don’t know, Claire is the founder and editor in Chief of Fashion Bomb Daily, one of the world’s most influential fashion websites. She also maintains her own lifestyle blog called The Bomb Life, while serving as an influencer and brand ambassador for the likes of Verizon, Martini & Rossi, and more.

I finally met Claire during fashion week back in September, so I was definitely excited to link with her again! At her mixers, Claire is known for bringing together the stylish and ambitious discuss various topics in fashion and business with some of the industry’s best. For this particular event, Claire brought out a star studded panel to drop gems on us, at the Flat NYC on 24th Street. Panelists included Celebrity Stylist, Designer, Instructor, and Global Creative Partner of MCM, Misa Hylton, Television Personality & Entrepreneur Bevy Smith, and Designer and Furrier to your celeb faves, Duckie Confetti. The event’s theme was animal print.

Starting with a BOMB VIP Brunch and red carpet welcome featuring DJ JFK, the atmosphere was intriguing and inviting as fashion creatives settled in to vibe and shop. Claire typically uses her events to bring awareness to dope brands that many may not be familiar with already. Vendors included: Black Tag ApparelMess in a BottleNroda SunglassesRed Eye Luxe, Boutte Rouge BoutiqueYvonne JewnellLaMonique Cosmetics, and Vanity Storm.

I instantly connected with a few fellow bloggers as we helped each other flick it up while bouncing our creative ideas off of each other. Not long after, the panel began as my photographer arrived to help me get content. I literally gained so much knowledge and insight but a few of my main takeaways included…

“MAKE STRATEGIC MOVES WITHIN YOUR BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS THAT WILL LATER ON BE PROFITABLE IN THE LONG TERM” -via DUCKIE CONFETTI

Talking about doing “work for free”, so to speak, is often a topic that is considered almost taboo in the fashion industry. As fashionistas questioned what type of “free” work was the right move, Duckie gave insight on how he strategizes when it comes to this. He shared how he gave Meek Mill’s stylist a leopard sleeve hoodie free of charge, knowing that seeing the very well known rapper in his merch would influence people to shop (he was right, this one move alone made him 6 figures). He stressed to us the importance of making sacrifices for your brand that will likely have a high upside, financially.

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“THE STRUGGLE IS GOOD FOR YOU, IT GIVES YOU CONFIDENCE, SUBSTANCE & GRIT!”- via BEVY SMITH

Though Bevy is now a very well established professional, she shared how there was a 7 year era where she would have to “go out and hunt and kill” for work. She stressed how though this was one of the most difficult times of her life, it was the time in her life that built her character the most. Bevy encouraged those on the quest to manifest big dreams to not be in the rush for “success” or “stardom” and to embrace their current struggles because quite often the struggle itself is what’s propelling you toward the life you dream about.

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“YOUR VISION IS CLEAR, NOW JUST CONTINUE TO EXECUTE” - via MISA HYLTON

Upon me asking iconic stylist Misa Hylton what moves I should make to continuously set me apart in my craft, she asked what makes me unique. Once I told her how it’s my passion for who my clients truly are and using that to create looks that speak to their highest self, she reassured me how clear my individuality already is.

Misa shared how it took her a while to gain confidence as a stylist being that she first got into the business with her then boyfriend. But it took for her to keep going after they ended to really recognize who she was and what she wanted to achieve as a stylist. She let me know that from here on out, its all about using the knowledge I gain from each experience to move forward and do what works for me because the path for everyone is not the same.

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“KEEP GOING, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU’RE POSITIVELY INFLUENCING “ - via CLAIRE SULMERS

While sharing with us how she felt so close to giving up lately due to the challenges that Fashion Bomb Daily had been facing as a business, she simply didn’t. She got emotional looking at the AMAZING turn out of the event, saying that was just what she needed to reassure her that she was doing something right. She inspired us to keep going because we never know who we’re motivating and influencing. The mixer’s turn out was living proof of that!

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After a little more networking and connecting, I left the event SO ready to execute on the new insight. It’s crazy because this past week, I hadn’t been feeling well at all. A couple days before leaving for the event, I came down with the worst cold I’ve had in a while so I was feeling so drained. Honestly, as excited as I was for the meet up, the last thing I felt like doing was going out. But this weekend definitely taught me that you never know what blessings and great opportunities you give up when you only focus on what you feel like doing.

I wanna encourage you to also push past your comfort zone, even when you may not feel like it. Take time to invest in your craft and don’t be afraid to seek out experiences that will contribute to your growth!

Shop My Look: I am wearing a  snake print mock neck top  and  faux fur coat  from Boohoo, Missguided burgundy wrap faux suede mini skirt,  Miss Lola thigh high boots ,  House of Rehab bag , and Forever 21 drop earrings.

Shop My Look: I am wearing a snake print mock neck top and faux fur coat from Boohoo, Missguided burgundy wrap faux suede mini skirt, Miss Lola thigh high boots, House of Rehab bag, and Forever 21 drop earrings.

Sharra,

“The definition of walking art.”

P.S. There will be many more Convos With Claire meet ups for those who wanna attend in the future! Keep your eyes peeled on the @convoswithclaire Instagram page and Fashion Bomb Daily.

Want more recap content? Check out this recap on Style With Sharra: The Podcast Series.

TALKING FASHION WEEK, PURPOSE, AND BREAKING BARRIERS: MY INTERVIEW WITH FEARLESS & MULTI- FACETED CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR COURT KIM

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE

Court Kim for Matte Brand. Photos by    Arturo Evaristo   .

Court Kim for Matte Brand. Photos by Arturo Evaristo.

    The dope thing about networking and connecting with like-minded creatives is that as you cross paths, you often get to watch each other’s dreams come true. That’s certainly the case with my lil boo Courtlyn Montgomery, aka Court Kim. We met back in April, as we were both doing media coverage for our affiliated brands at the Fashion Designers' and Craftmakers' Angelman Syndrome Charity Event. We instantly vibed, along with a couple of other dope fashion creatives who atttended.

    I still keep in touch with them to this day so I knew that Court would be walking at NYFW. However, I had NO idea it would be for the same exact show that I would be styling! Upon seeing her name on the lineup, I was pumped to connect with her again. Being present doing what I love, while also being there for her during the backstage chaos that is NYFW, was seriously so special to me, especially as a witness to how multi faceted Court’s brand is and most importantly, how much of a genuine spirit she truly is.

          On top of being an extremely talented and candid journalist for Court Kim Media and LAPP the Brand, she also owns an online t-shirt brand, juggles modeling gigs, and is a bride-to-be, all while remaining extremely humble, well-wishing to others, and having extreme tunnel vision. Her energy is contagious and I’m beyond happy that we connected this year. Check out my interview with Court as we talk her inspirations, her BOMB fashion week experience, her advice to interns, and more.

           

Photo Courtesy of Style Fashion Week.

Photo Courtesy of Style Fashion Week.

Sharra: When did you first learn you had a passion for journalism and how did your other creative endeavors such as modeling come into the picture?

Courtlyn: I loved the concept of telling stories early on as a kid. I also love to talk to people about who they are. When I watched Oprah with my Mom as a kid, I grew fond of how she was able to break barriers while eloquently relay the real-life experiences of the American people. My other creative endeavors came out of wanting to naturally expand. Modeling was the biggest surprise for me because I didn’t know that someone like me could make it. I’m happy that I was wrong.

Sharra: So has your upbringing and background has affected who you are as a creative? If so, how?

Courtlyn: Ahhh this one is tricky. Roswell, GA wasn’t the place that I could really get into my creative self. It was more about surviving a conservative, predominately white community as a black kid. Through God and my loved ones, I’ve survived so many traumatic events and I’m still here to tell that narrative. It affects me to the point that I don’t sugarcoat anything anymore. I want my shoots to be meaningful and strategic. My articles have been  received well because I know my purpose. I’m not PR. I’m a Journalist. It’s my duty to eloquently report the facts.

Sharra: Yeah, you can definitely tell that you have a “survivor, not a victim” mindset. It translates through how transparent and candid you are as a writer. So let’s talk fashion week. I stood backstage with you holding your hand during the chaos right before your NYFW debut. It was so special watching that dream come true for you on the runway AND watching you get a standing ovation! Explain what that moment meant for you? 

Courtlyn: LISTEN. First of all, I lucked out in having you backstage with me. Thank you for keeping me level minded through the process. NYFW has been a dream of mine for the longest. It’s one of the world’s biggest stages. The backstage experience was hectic! I was practicing on my backless heels for two hours prior to hitting the main runway. Briana Wilson (the designer of MATTE Brand) casted me in a campaign two years prior so it just felt like destiny to share this moment with her. The standing ovation was the most out-of-body experience that I’ve ever had. It felt electric. I cried after walking as well. A black curve model with boxed braids at NYFW? I did that. I’m still in disbelief that I achieved that.

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Sharra: You definitely did! It was crazy, both being with you backstage and then watching it all pay off during the show and I’m so happy that I was able to be apart of that milestone in your career! So, when asked on Instagram about the importance of internships, you’ve mentioned that you have one under your belt but you believe that you can make your dreams happen on your own. What do you believe is needed to be a successful, multi-faceted creative entrepreneur in today’s world? 

Courtlyn: “Internships” should be a fulfilling experience in your field with proper compensation. College kids should know this so their labor won’t be exploited. My internship, however, was more so about fulfilling something for my resume. However, everything that I’ve done as a creative had nothing to do with my internship. My hard work, drive, and vision has been my guide this entire time. 

Sharra: I agree. I feel like internships should be mutually beneficial, especially because most young people who participate in them are often just starting to take on at least some financial responsibility. So Courtlyn, You’re working so hard on every aspect of your personal and professional brand from perfecting your craft as a writer, to serving as a muse for several fashion and creative projects. What message do you want to send to the world with your work?

Courtlyn: I feel like my message is embedded in my overall brand and creative vision. I lead with love, kindness, and intelligence in everything that I do. I want the world to know that I’m young, Black, and gifted. There’s no point of being humble about it because I deserve to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Black Women deserve to experience joy and that’s what I’m going to exude. In terms of my career in Journalism, I want my writing to always be meaningful, poignant content. 

Sharra: I’m so glad that you get that black women deserve to experience joy and be selective and intentional with all of their work! Way too often, women are trained to serve as everyone else’s source of joy but we can’t pour into others when our own glasses are empty… So, as a stylist, I’m always stressing the importance of using personal style as a means of self expression. It’s important to me that people have fun with their look and that they don’t get so caught up in today’s “trends” that they lose their sense of individuality. How would you describe your personal style? I know it’s pretty versatile! But how would you put it into words?

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Courtlyn: My style is really sporadic to be honest. I don’t dress on a “trends” basis because it’s honestly wack. I’ll partake if I feel that a trend has the capability of being “timeless.” I have hints of “goth” influence in my wardrobe as well. I really want to tap into that more. When I step out, I always serve a “bombshell” look. I love to wear something simple that accentuates my curves.

In the Winter, I always have my statement faux fur pieces. I also loooove to wear menswear. I know that my fiancé is probably annoyed with me for borrowing his clothes on a constant basis. In terms of my hair, I am sticking to my box braids. They’re super easy to maintain and they make me feel powerful. 

Sharra: You’re constantly adding to your brand. You juggle a day job, your dream job (being a journalist owning your own media company, and creative muse, having a t shirt line, etc.) what’s next for the Court Kim brand? Or are you focused on perfecting what’s already on your plate?

Courtlyn: Wow... I really do a lot, huh? This list is so steep. I’ve just closed a couple of deals for future media projects. One of them is a new podcast. The other one is something that I can’t even comment on. I’ve been given a few dream opportunities and I’m in my zone. I’m constantly working on Court Kim Media. I just don’t create based on instant gratification. I want my projects to be well-crafted. I’m in this fearless, commanding time in my life. This is what I’ve been working so hard for.


Court, it’s more than a pleasure being a witness to some of your major achievements in the industry. Thank you for sharing with me and my readers and I’m looking forward to watching the growth of all things Court Kim! Keep up with Court on Instagram, check out her articles here, and check out her t shirt line here!

More interviews and style posts coming very soon to the blog! Make sure you’re subscribed here to be the first to know about new content!

Sharra,

“The definition of walking art.”

5 LESSONS I'VE LEARNED AS A STYLIST: ON THE LATEST EPISODE OF STYLE WITH SHARRA: THE PODCAST SERIES

#behind thescenes: See more from this shoot   here

#behind thescenes: See more from this shoot here

     When I started pursuing a styling career at age 18, I knew I had A LOT to learn. In the beginning, I had insecurities, limited resources, and a whole bunch of questions. Though I still have a long way to go before I achieve all that I want, I'm honestly just so grateful for all that I've learned on this journey so far. Looking back, I realize how much what I've learned can help all of my fellow young bosses who are pursuing a career in fashion, or any creative career for that matter. So if you're an aspiring stylist or creative, this episode is definitely for you! 

      In this episode of Style With Sharra, I'm going a little beneath the surface, reflecting on my styling journey while sharing some of the many lessons that I've learned as a creative and as a businesswoman. Tune in to get to know more about my humble beginnings, skills that I believe set a great stylist apart from the rest, and challenges that I still face to this day! Take a listen and comment your thoughts of questions!

Take a listen and let me know your thoughts or questions in the comment!

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."