inspiring

MAKING A MARK IN FASHION DESPITE THE "YOU CAN'T SIT WITH US" MENTALITY THAT PLAGUES THE INDUSTRY

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE

Pioneer and Curator of Ebony Fashion Fair, Eunice Walker Johnson sitting front row during a fashion presentation.

Pioneer and Curator of Ebony Fashion Fair, Eunice Walker Johnson sitting front row during a fashion presentation.

As expressive and beautiful the phenomenon that is fashion can be, there’s also such a strong sense of secrecy and exclusivity concerning the industry. Anyone who wants in has experienced this in one way or another. From authorities in fashion refusing to hire people of a certain look, race, religion, or social class, down to giving no front row seats at shows for those who aren’t deemed “good enough” over trivial matters, even down to how secretive individuals can be when it comes to sharing their “recipe for success” , the “crabs in a barrel” attitude that often exudes from many of those who are apart of the industry is virtually impossible to miss; and if you let it, it can leave you feeling discouraged, disheartened, and underrepresented. Thankfully, we’re living in a time where those who came before us have walked so we could run, and it’s becoming easier to still show up and kill it in this industry, in your own right.

Whether you’re an aspiring tastemaker, blogger, designer, model, or even if you’re just a lover of fashion culture, I’ve found on my journey just how important it is to unapologetically offer your 2 cents, despite voices in the industry constantly trying to control what is perceived as acceptable and appealing and what is not. You never know how your perspective will positively influence and inspire others along their own journey. Here are a few ways to keep making your presence known…

IF YOU CAN’T JOIN THEM, CREATE YOUR OWN

This has been the approach that some of fashion’s most iconic trailblazers and legends in the making have taken, and are still taking. When we abandon our need to be accepted by everyone we feel is important, that’s often when our true calling makes itself known. As a young black woman who’s building a career in fashion, it’s no secret that throughout history, there have been many doors closed for people who look like me. However, I’m so blessed to be pursuing fashion in a time where those who came before me have knocked down some doors and tossed me the key, in a sense.

Ebony Fashion Fair Curator Eunice Walker took initiative to highlight blacks in fashion during a time when the mainstream tastemakers in the industry were ignoring us. After having a dream of writing for Vogue deferred, Editor in Chief of Fashion Bomb Daily, Claire Sulmers (if you read here often, you already know she’s my fav!) utilized her growing online presence to create “her own Vogue” in so many words, creating and maintaining a unique space for multicultural fashion to be celebrated. “First you ask, then you take.”, she says.

Eunice Walker Johnson’s Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit, highlighting black up and coming designers of her time.

Eunice Walker Johnson’s Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit, highlighting black up and coming designers of her time.

From Instagram born, profitable fashion brands to influencers who found their tribe, went viral, and never looked back… we live in an era where when we can’t join someone’s movement, we can create our own and be just as, if not even more successful, and a lot of industry vets are upset about it. But there’s honestly no going back… due to the way we receive our information (internet, social media, etc.") There’s an array of ways to consistently contribute your perspective in any industry, especially fashion.

Seeing a lack of representation in fashion that moves you to want to act on it? Instead of wasting time begging and waiting for certain opportunities, be the change and create your own. It can start with establishing your own movement, whether it be via an online presence, creating in-person groups and organizations, etc. Through experience, I’m learning that it gains momentum when you continue to create your content, share your style, share your opinions, and continue to show up and speak up despite whoever’s trying to silence you. You’d be surprised how people identify with your voice when you use it.

SPEAK UP, NEVER BE AFRAID TO PLUG YOURSELF

Me introducing myself to legendary stylist Misa Hylton at the  Convos with Claire networking event  in December 2018.

Me introducing myself to legendary stylist Misa Hylton at the Convos with Claire networking event in December 2018.

With fashion being such a competitive industry, it’s important to know how to plug yourself. This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far when it comes to my business. When I first started styling back in 2014, I was not as confident as I am now, which probably caused me to fumble a few bags in the process. It didn’t help that I’m naturally introverted, believe it or not. But over time, I’ve learned when to break out of my shell and handle business because if I don’t speak for my brand, no one else will.

When you walk into a room hoping to make your mark, Ive learned that it’s important to remember that people don’t read minds. They’re not aware of the gifts you possess, and until you speak up and let them know, you risk missing out on building meaningful connections with others and further establishing your brand. If you’re looking to get better at representing yourself, practicing your elevator pitch and testing it out at networking events or when you meet new people, can help you level up when it comes to leaving a lasting impression.

SUPPORT A MOVEMENT BEFORE IT’S “MOVING”

Everyday, I see SO MANY dope brands and creatives in fashion who offer a fresh point of view and quality work getting knocked off, ripped off, and overlooked. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “nobody is messing with your movement until it’s moving” but it can be challenging to gain momentum when people don’t support you just because you haven’t “made it” yet in their eyes, whatever that means. That’s why I’ve recently been making a point to support my fellow small business owners, minority owned businesses, and an array of other groups in fashion who constantly seem to get put on the back burner.

When you choose to support a label, or brand before it has completely taken off and gone mainstream, not only do you establish yourself as a trendsetter and not a follower, but you also gain leverage by supporting at the beginning stages because it often leads to strong partnerships and relationships with the owners of these companies that many others missed out on because they simply jumped on the bandwagon later on down the road. Consider taking on ambassadorships or even simply purchasing from more of the brands that are slept on, it can help you make your mark in the long run, in more ways than one.

Hope you got something from this post! New fashion week coming to the blog very soon! Stay tuned!

Sharra,

“The definition of walking art.”

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.”

MY NEW YORK FASHION WEEK SEPTEMBER 2018 RECAP + 4 TIPS FOR ATTENDING NYFW !

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE

SO, This was my first fashion week where I would be working as an independent stylist! When I say independent, I mean solo dolo, as in not appointed by an agency. Needless to say, it was a dream come true. From working with one of my favorite brands to meeting my favorite fashion writer, it was definitely one that I’ll remember forever.

Like I’ve told everyone who's asked me about my experience, NYFW took all the energy I had, in the best way possible! From preparing designer collections before they made their runway debut to maneuvering around NYC trying to make it to shows on time, on top of making sure I connected with my NY based friends while I was in town, it was a hectic, fast paced, and fun all at once. I’ve learned so much in just a matter of days and I’m already planning for February’s fashion week! Here are a few highlights from my experience as well as 4 tips I’m passing along for anyone whose interested in attending.

Dressing Models for the Matte Brand Show…

Since I was hired by Style Fashion Week to work with multiple designers, I had no idea who exactly I would be dressing for when I arrived. of course, I knew of some of the designers that would be showcasing at Style Fashion Week. However, weeks before I left for NYC, every time I would check the schedule, something was different. Some designers were added, some were taken off. There were rumors going around at the venue that Briana Shanee of Matte Brand would be showing later on and as dope as I thought that would be since I wear her clothes and LOVE them, I kinda shrugged it off because I hadn’t seen her there.

Photos courtesy of Style Fashion Week and Matte Brand.

Photos courtesy of Style Fashion Week and Matte Brand.

As I was walking past a room where style assignments were being given, I saw Briana walk in not long after. She asked a group of stylists to start assisting her with the line up and I immediately got to work, helping her plan the debut of this BOMB collection. Though I was backstage assisting multiple designers with styling the models, Matte was my main assignment for the day. Briana was down to earth, cool under pressure, and she knew what she wanted, which made working with her such a great experience.

Photo by me.

Photo by me.

cc: Style Fashion Week.

cc: Style Fashion Week.

Watching the collections come to life on the runway for Briana and a host of other designers was beyond rewarding. Being able to have a double view of the backstage craze and the hard work we were putting in to make everything come together, while watching the crowd react not long after just made me appreciate the craft so much more. The show was complimented with a BOMB performance of Shade by artist Sonyae Elise (I’ve been listening to this song everyday since I got back, it’s a forever mood).

On top of that, watching Courtland, ( a.k.a Court Kim, one of my friends that I met back in April at the Angelman Syndrome event) walk in the show and get a standing ovation made me so happy and proud to see all of her hard work on her personal brand pay off! Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Court, coming very soon!

Court Kim making her NYFW debut.

Court Kim making her NYFW debut.

Watching the Yas Couture Show

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If you follow the red carpet styles of Jlo, Ashanti, and Gwen Stefani, just to name a few, you’re probably familiar with the work of Elie Madi of Yas Couture without even knowing it. The couture label is known for their glistening gowns with sultry silhouettes. Luckily, I was finished dressing models just in time to catch some front row views at the venue’s only couture show of the day. Models dripped in glitter, sequins, and feathers shining on lush fabrics.

Photos by Me.

Photos by Me.

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ATTENDING SHOWS POWERED BY FASHION BOMB DAILY & MEETING CLAIRE SULMERS

On my last day in town, I was pretty exhausted from working behind the scenes all day for the first two days. I had plans to attend some shows, enjoy being in the audience, and of course, network. I had front row tickets for a showcase of emerging designers, hosted by FBD founder Claire Sulmers and wardrobe stylist H Diddy. One thing that I love about seeing the work of emerging talent is that you can literally see the passion and hunger through their work, which is not always the case with some designers who may already have some skin in the game. I was more than impressed.

On top of that, I almost cried meeting Claire Sulmers (anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE ME SOME HER). We had a brief conversation but she was super sweet and encouraging! I’m definitely looking forward to further connecting with her in the near future. Peep some of my favorite collections from the shows below.

Blac Glas

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The opener was Blac Glas. When I tell you, this collection had me wanting to get up out my seat but I didn’t wanna block the view! The designer is all about creating contemporary clothing for women that is sexy, yet classy and modern yet vintage inspired. I was literally in awe at her unique point of view and her eye for detail. My favorite look was a hot pink coat with colorful snakeskin and vinyl panels and huge fur sleeves (above). I could definitely tell that nothing but the best materials were chosen to execute this collection.

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The finale show and main event was by Christien of Christien Kollection. This man is a MASTER TAILOR. Not only did he give us impeccably fitting two and three piece suits out of vibrant textiles and prints but he also served us some gorgeous couture gowns in lush fabrics. I was in love, along with a lot of the audience.

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Photos courtesy of Tyree Thomas of Ivistofoto. See more of his work at Ivistofoto.com

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4 TIPS FOR ATTENDING FASHION WEEK…

  1. Pack Clothing Options for Several Different Weather Conditions

With NYC’s unpredictable weather, packing looks that you can switch out if the weather switches up is crucial.

2. Choose Looks That Make a Statement

Fashion week is not just about the looks on the runway. It’s also about appreciating both the art and commerce sides of fashion with others, networking, and making meaningful connections with people. Putting together eye catching looks can serve as ice breakers and conversation starters, doing some of the work for you when it comes to networking.

3. Make Travel Plans Ahead of Time

Though a lot of fashion shows are held in Manhattan, different shows tend to be scattered around town at different venues. If you want to hit as many shows as possible, create an itinerary of shows you want to attend, research the tickets / requirements needed to attend.

Then, map out your travel plans based on the show’s locations and how you’ll be getting from point A to B, whether it be via subway, Uber, walking, etc. Making these plans ahead of time will save you a lot of time, energy, and stress once you’re heading out.

4. Be Confident

Whether you’re working behind the scenes to produce the shows, attending as part of the audience, or doing both like I did, confidence is key. Having confidence in your skills, point of view, and what you can bring to the table can help you make new friends and potential business partners or clients. Never let anyone make you feel like you don’t belong. If you have a major interest in fashion and style and the knowledge to go with it, then you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Attending this season’s NYFW was beyond inspiring and motivating for me. I’m already looking forward to do it all over again in February!

Thank you to Style Fashion Week and each of the bomb designers that I was able to work with, as well as everyone that showed love and support to me during the hectic week! See any looks above that you like? Comment your thoughts below! Let’s chop it up. New posts coming your way very soon!

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."