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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.”

#BLACKBRANDSMATTER: 5 BLACK OWNED BRANDS TO SHOP FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

CURATED BY SHARRA GREENE

#BlackBrandsMatter: I am wearing  Brazen Bundle s Virgin Indian Hair in 20,22, 24 lengths)

#BlackBrandsMatter: I am wearing Brazen Bundles Virgin Indian Hair in 20,22, 24 lengths)

So, for the next 3 weeks, I'll be curating holiday gift guides for my BOMB subscribers! Each list will feature a variety of different online finds that would make great gifts and each list will have a DIFFERENT theme! Reminder: The full list is EXCLUSIVELY for my subscriber’s eyes only! This will be the only gift guide posted to the blog so MAKE SURE YOU’RE SUBSCRIBED to receive the weekly list, leading up to the holidays!
     This week's theme is Black-Owned Brands! On my 
podcast (returning 11/27), I express how important I think it is to support minority-owned fashion and lifestyle brands, as so many minority groups contribute so heavily to the culture. With Black Friday deals coming right around the corner, I wanted to plug you guys to save those coins! Happy Shopping! 

HOUSE OF REHAB BAG

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These BOMB statement bags from black-owned brand House of Rehab are a remixed, yet original take on the well-known Chanel signature bags (except way less coin) . Know somebody who's a fashion lover? (obvi, yourself, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this) This is the perfect gifted accessory.

I just received the black and white version of the one above and I was more than impressed with the bag’s quality and not to mention, the BOMB customer service! I ordered my bag a few days ago and it shipped and tracked within HOURS! On top of that, they offer $3 flat rate shipping! Go check them out! P.S.  House of Rehab offers more than just bags! They also sell some fly tee's, hoodies, and sweats to keep you warm during this harsh Winter season!

KINGDOM NATIVE SWEATERS

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Kingdom Native designs dope casual wear with empowering, faith-based messages on each piece. Their array of sweaters, tees, and jackets, and hats would make for a unique and special gift. Their KN Racing Unisex Navy Blue Sweater (above)  is my top pick from their collection! But there's plenty more where this came from, for both men and women! Click below to see their full collection!

 

BRAZEN BUNDLES

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SO, Idk about y’all but this is one gift that I would LOVE to receive this year! I’m fairly new to the weave game but when I do rock inches, Brazen Bundles is my go to hair destination! Selling premium yet affordable virgin Indian hair, Brazen Bundles provides accessible quality goods and great customer service. Soft textured hair with minimum shedding and tangling is definitely the perfect present. P.S., for those in the Baltimore area, delivery is available!

HOODIES & TEES FROM BLACK VOGUE BY NAREASHA WILLIS

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Know someone who loves making political statements through personal style? The well known anti-appropriation brand Black Vogue by Nareasha Willis has the cutest worded clothing! I already have some merch from the brand, which I love! But Nareasha's tee dress is currently on my wishlist so I thought I'd share! Check out what they're offering for the holidays!

SUITS BY CONNAISEUR PARIS

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Tryna splurge on something special for bae? Connaisseur Paris takes custom orders for luxurious suits online! Their line offers a variety of unique colors and patterns. They also sell bow ties, dress shirts, and more! Have measurements ready!

Need more help shopping? I would love to style you and your loved ones for the holidays! Send styling inquiries here!

If you happen to try any of these pieces, I would love to see them! Send your style pic mail & style advice requests to styleadvicebysharra@gmail.com! I can't wait to see what you guys have in mind!

Last but not least, don’t forget to subscribe for the full holiday gift guide! New posts coming to The Walking Art Blog very soon!

Sharra,

“The definition of walking art.”

MY INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA WILLIAMS, DESIGNER OF IRREGULAR EXPOSURE CLOTHING

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE AND JESSICA WILLIAMS

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      As promised, I'm back sharing the stories of more inspiring creatives who are building a brand and building up others in the process. As a stylist, I'm always researching new designers and brands that I would like to collab with (and shop with, of course). Upon discovering Irregular Exposure on my Instagram explore page, I noticed that the brand offers really chic pieces that can also serve as capsule wardrobe essentials. I also couldn't help but notice that IE designs were being worn by the likes of Evelyn Lozada and Claire Sulmers (founder of Fashion Bomb Daily and my favorite blogger, ever).

      Even better, I discovered that the designer had just recently held the grand opening of her showroom in the downtown area of my city, Baltimore, Maryland. I had to know more... Read my interview with Jessica Williams, inspiring Designer and Creator of Irregular Exposure and IE Fashion Academy, where she coaches other aspiring fashionpreneurs.

Upon tuning in to an Irregular Exposure IG LIVE this past week, I heard you say that you yourself sketch and design the pieces. How long have you been designing?     

     I currently sketch all of my designs. I have multiple manufacturing companies that I partner with to create the collections. I used to cut and sew all designs however I am in a place where I simply don't have the time anymore so I am now outsourcing. This is pretty common with most fashion designers. I've been designing for 11 years. I began as a custom seamstress and I've been a ready to wear designer for about 4 years now.

The name of your brand is definitely one of the first things that caught my attention. How did you come up with the name Irregular Exposure?

     I created the name when I was really young. I actually was inspired by a footwear line, "Irregular Choice." I was infatuated with their crazy designs and I really began to sketch clothing around their shoes. I always wanted to help women expose their irregular vibes and there it was, the name was birthed!

On the Irregular Exposure blog, you talk about how you reached out to over 100 emerging designer shows in hopes of showing at NYFW and were told "no", only to be told 3 days before a show (and with $200 to your name) that you were next in line and accepted. After this show, sales grew by %238. what did you end up doing to prepare for something so major at such short notice and what has this experience taught you?

     Well I am a firm believer in the motto, "don't get ready, stay ready." I had created my collection in advance with faith on my side knowing that God would cover me and allow my collection to be seen by who it was intended for. I was actually working a 9-5 making good money however this particular week was bill week and I was broke! I had faith and it turned out to be the opportunity that changed my life. The experience taught me that consistency, faith, and determination is required. It also taught me that someone is always watching so remain humble and clear on your brand story at all times. Your next opportunity is already watching you.

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What does your Fashion Academy offer and what inspired you to start it?

     The IE Fashion Academy is a digital coaching program for aspiring and emerging fashion entrepreneurs. We offer 6-12 month programs to guide emerging designers, stylist, bloggers, fashion show producers and other fashionable creatives, through the process of concept to profit. With my education and experience, I am able to guide clients through the online classes and events. We are known for our 3 day quarterly retreats which is when the clients meet for 3 days to build. We just wrapped our NYC Fashion Retreat which is when we take clients through the garment district, fashion week and more. My academy is the most important thing to me right now and we are growing. We currently have over 25 private clients in 16 different cities so it's definitely worth the value. Check us out online at IEFashionAcademy.com 

So, Claire Sulmers is one of my favorite women in the industry. I seriously love her. I especially love how she's contributed to the black fashion community. What opportunity allowed you to meet her and how was the experience? 

      I was able to meet Claire at an event in Atlanta almost 2 years back. I reconnected with her through one of her Cocktails with Claire events and she really spoke highly of my brand so we agreed to wear a look on social media. She noticed the investments I was willing to make to be in a room with her. Whether it meant flying to ATL or vending at an event she attended, I knew I wanted her guidance within my network. The experience was very natural. She's a regular lady from the ATL with cool vibes just like us lol! I always am very chill when I meet people. I never like to come off as too much of a stalker lol so I remained calm and gave clear intent. It was really just me going to her letting her know that I wanted to build with her and the rest was history! She's a great person.

What would you call this chapter of your life and why?

      I would call it womanhood. I feel that I am becoming the woman I will be for my lifetime. At age 25, I am seeing clearer. My life consists of God, family, love & business and that's all that really matters. The business allows me to have more time for what matters. I feel so grateful at this point. I just opened my first store and my business is extremely successful. I am at a point where I just want to help others and that's definitely grown woman tendencies lol.

Any advice for aspiring creative entrepreneurs out here?

     Man's rejection is God's protection. Those "no's" you keep hearing are getting you closer to those "yes's." Cover and protect your energy and thoughts. Only share with like minds. Do things for the first time because that's where the opportunity lies.

Shop Irregular Exposure online or stop into their new showroom at 910 S. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland. I know I will! Keep up with Jessica and all of her upcoming events by following her on Instagram and comment your thoughts on our interview below

Images from the IE lookbook. 

Images from the IE lookbook. 

More photo shoots and inspirational content coming very soon. Xoxo

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."

 

 

ELEGANT MEETS SULTRY FOR FALL/ WINTER ' 17: VERSATILE LOOK INSPIRATION

Styled & Curated by Sharra Greene

     A curated selection of alluring looks where charming and sexy meet in the middle.  Combine both elegant and sexy elements for an alluring aesthetic this season. Think lace embroidery & florals alongside luxe fur & leather, tall boots, and just the right amount of skin.

Shop the Look: Model Shamika wearing the  Necessary Clothing bodysuit ,  Lola Shoetique Hitlist boots , vintage kimono from my wardrobe (similar one  here ),  Bebe choker , and  belt .   Photo by D. Rice Photography. Makeup by Alesia Sad'e

Shop the Look: Model Shamika wearing the Necessary Clothing bodysuit, Lola Shoetique Hitlist boots, vintage kimono from my wardrobe (similar one here), Bebe choker, and belt. Photo by D. Rice Photography. Makeup by Alesia Sad'e

Jaded, Foresta, and Floral Fatale on Polyvore.

Jaded, Foresta, and Floral Fatale on Polyvore.

Tulle Couture by Sharra. Photography by Eliza Romero-Kovalsky of Aesthetic Distance. Model: Polina Kopii.

Tulle Couture by Sharra. Photography by Eliza Romero-Kovalsky of Aesthetic Distance. Model: Polina Kopii.

Photography by Travis Curry. Makeup by Carolyn Thombs. Model: Amanda Nell.

Photography by Travis Curry. Makeup by Carolyn Thombs. Model: Amanda Nell.

Kool Kat & Textured on Polyvore.

Kool Kat & Textured on Polyvore.

Photography by Rasheedha Essence. Model: Cierra Nicole.

Photography by Rasheedha Essence. Model: Cierra Nicole.

Moving & Harsh Winter on Polyvore.

Moving & Harsh Winter on Polyvore.

Photos by Eliza Romero-Kovalsky & Kelvin Bulluck. Models: Viktoria Ivanova & Polina Kopii.

Photos by Eliza Romero-Kovalsky & Kelvin Bulluck. Models: Viktoria Ivanova & Polina Kopii.

Rosa de Vita & Transparency on Polyvore.

Rosa de Vita & Transparency on Polyvore.

More look inspiration for this season coming very soon to the blog.

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."