MY INTERVIEW WITH JESSICA WILLIAMS, DESIGNER OF IRREGULAR EXPOSURE CLOTHING

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE AND JESSICA WILLIAMS

      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.

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."

 

 

"ATTITUDE" IS MY MUSE IN THE WORLD OF STYLE: WHAT INSPIRED ME FROM THE START AND CONTINUES TO INFLUENCE MY CREATIVITY

Written by Sharra Greene

Credits:

Photographer/Creative Director: Kelvin Bulluck

Makeup Artist: Ayiana G.

Featuring and Styled by Me

      Above all of the things that serve as inspiration for me, attitude has always been the nonstop source that has moved me and  influenced both my passion and my aesthetic as an artist. Without it, true style is not really complete, in my opinion. In retrospect, observing attitude and the many forms that it takes is what drove me to pursue a career in style in the first place... many may be able to relate when we think about the way that style and attitude affect our inner and outer worlds. 

     I come from a long line of women who love expressing themselves through personal style and aren't afraid of fashion. Growing up with my mom being a social worker by day and a bartender by night, I was always inspired by how my mom transformed her wardrobe throughout her day. Watching her look go from dressy casual, chic, and fabulous during the day and then coming home and transforming into an edgy glamazon for the night life really opened my eyes to the way that what we decide to wear can affect our confidence, posture, and demeanor. As her heels clicked around the house and fringe details on her gorgeous dresses and jackets swung behind her, I was in tow, not too far behind (getting in the way and getting on her nerves as she got dressed) and I couldn't help but notice how after each glance of her reflection in the mirror, she held her head a little higher, walked a little sexier, and moved a little differently. It was beautiful. It was then that I realized that a woman's style of dress can serve as an essential form of self expression that can enhance her confidence and reveal different sides of her inner being.

     My mom often shared throwback pics of my grandmothers and great grandmothers (my grandfathers' style was pretty on point too) in everything from sexy high waist shorts, bold tops, and sky high heels, to mink furs sometimes paired with custom made dresses, chic berets, etc. (My very first shoots included so many of these pieces, they're so bomb)... They looked unique, beautiful, and incredibly confident. All of this has pushed me to always be led by the attitude that I want to be conveyed when putting together looks, rather than the "technicalities" of fashion...To this day, on set, I'm always intrigued by the way that a woman poses and carries herself in a look that I put together for her.

     Attitude as it relates to style, includes but is not limited to the way that a woman chooses to put things together. What she chooses to include or exclude and accessorize can be used to make a statement about herself and/ or the way she's feeling. None of it is really "right" or  "wrong", it's all about a feeling, a vibe, an attitude. That is the way that I choose to look at it. Looking at fashion and style as an art from and not a science has driven the concept of my brand, "the definition of walking art." That perception of style is what has and will continue to inspire me my entire life. 

P.S. SHOP MY LOOK: Me in my fave Bebe faux suede crop top and wrap skirt, nude strap sandals. bangle and earrings from my wardrobe. 

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."

MORE GORGEOUS LOOKS INSPIRED BY THE ROSE, STYLED BY ME & FEATURING AMANDA LANG

Photography and Creative Direction by D. Rice Photography, beauty by idris

Get the Look: Amanda wears a black floral embroidered top, black faux leather tie belted mini, lace tights, harness choker.

Get the Look: Amanda wears a black floral embroidered top, black faux leather tie belted mini, lace tights, harness choker.

Get the Look: Amanda is styled in a mesh mock crop over a sleeveless pvc plunge dress (worn as a top), red jacquard pleated hem mini, plated earrings, hair bow, and Nasty Gal (the OG one) Delicate Danger Lace stilettos

Get the Look: Amanda is styled in a mesh mock crop over a sleeveless pvc plunge dress (worn as a top), red jacquard pleated hem mini, plated earrings, hair bow, and Nasty Gal (the OG one) Delicate Danger Lace stilettos

"A rose's rarest essence lives in the thorn. A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom."

More looks from this series to be featured in N'Trigue magazine, coming soon. Xo

Sharra, 

"The definition of walking art."

#THROWBACKTHURSDAY: SIZZLING AND SULTRY SUMMER VIBES STYLED BY ME, FEATURING SOPHIA YESHI

Photo by D. Rice Photography. Beauty by Brittany Main. 

Photo by D. Rice Photography. Beauty by Brittany Main

"Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August."
—Jenny Han

Get the Look: Catch some summer inspo with this bomb image of Sophia Yeshi wearing a vintage printed wrap dress (similar style here), Bebe studded belt, layered bangles and rings, choker, and wooden heeled sandals

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."

#MODELCRUSHMONDAY: NAOMI CAMPBELL, EBONEE DAVIS AND ALL OF THE WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY WHO STAND FOR REPRESENTATION

Cover Art & Article By Sharra Greene

From a Social Awareness Project in 2014

From a Social Awareness Project in 2014

      It's no secret that there is a major issue when it comes to diverse types of beauty being showcased and represented  in the fashion industry. Though we have come a long way, we still have a very long way to go concerning this issue. Legendary Supermodel and mogul Naomi Campbell has been one of many working women in the industry who actively uses her platform to speak and act on the prejudice that often plagues so many, including the talent working in the tough industry, as well as the fathful followers and onlookers of the media that is produced for fashion and style. 

     It seems that many tend to downplay just how important representation really is. But as a follower of the fashion industry since I was a very young child, I have witnsessed first hand both the postitive and negative effects of seeing beauty that you can relate to in the media, or lack thereof. Don't get me wrong, I am and always have been inspired by all different types of beauty, whether the muse used resembled me in some way or not. But there is something beautiful that happens when a young person sees someone who looks like them, placed on a positive platform and shown in a way that is artistic, beautiful, and has a positive message of some sort behind it. It says to them, "Me too, I can, too."

     Likewise, something disheartening occurs in one's mind and heart when positive and beautiful images of people who they resemble can only be found few and far between. This can say " Not you, you're not good enough." It is this first hand experience along with the leadership and courage of those who are apart of the industry and still are so intentional and unwaverring on their stance of representation, that has driven and inspired myself along with so many other creatives to create work that captures versatile types of beauty. 

     For some time now, Naomi Campbell has publicly voiced her opinion when it comes to representation. It's what inspired me to create the mock up cover of her, centering powerful taglines that push the envelope and get the message across. However, she is not alone in her message. Naomi, accompanied by supermodel Iman do counts at the season's hottest runway shows and publicly hold designers and creative directors accountable. She's stated that she will not shut up until she feels that it's well balanced.

     There's also some millenial talent who use their influence to walk and talk in their truth when it comes to representation and the struggle of being a minority in the industry. One of my favorite voices to hear on the issue is gorgeous model and advocate Ebonee Davis, whose Ted talk on "black girl magic in the fashion industry" moved me to tears and whose recent editorial series on black divas of the past, recreated, is the epitome of using your art to create positive media that inspires and encourages representation.

Ebonee Davis as Mahogany (Originally played by Diana Ross) Photo by Ricardo Rivera.

Ebonee Davis as Mahogany (Originally played by Diana Ross) Photo by Ricardo Rivera.

     These are just a few of the women who are actively using their gifts and power to promote inclusion in an industry that I love so much, so this post is for all of them. It's about time that all of our stories are told and valued through beauty and fashion. We are all too beautiful and unique for any one kind of look, to be overlooked.

Feel free to comment your thoughts, I'd love to read more opinions on the topic!

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."

MY WORDS ARE MY SUPERPOWER: MY INTERVIEW WITH WRITER JASMYN RUJA

WRITTEN BY SHARRA GREENE AND JASMYN RUJA 

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     Since reading In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney, a curation of motivational and insightful content from over 100 women creative entrepreneurs (review coming soon) I've been particularly inspired to share the stories of young women who are using their gifts to cultivate brands that not only create great opportunities for them, but also uplift and inspire others in the process. So, expect to see more interviews and collaborations in future posts. My latest interview is with student, self care advocate and writer Jasmyn Ruja who believes that her words are her super power. 

     Jasmyn and I follow each other on both Twitter and Instagram, and I always found myself encouraged by her tweets and posts. Upon checking out her blog, JasmynRuja.com, I was even more inspired by the genuine words of wisdom that come from such a young soul, via Jasmyn's written pieces that she shares with the world. I had to know more about this positive spirit. Check out my interview with Jasmyn on the topics of her life's purpose, what it means to be successful in today's world, women collaborating in business, personal style, and more.       

Tell me about yourself! Share whatever you feel is necessary. 

    Hello all! I'm Jasmyn Ruja. I'm currently a student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, studying Psychology. I love all things women's empowerment. I love all things mental health. Writing is my passion. It's like an escape for me, really. It's so fun for me because I learn so much about myself through my writing. Sometimes I don't even realize how amazing my mind is until I read things I've written. People that follow me on social media probably don't know that I'm really weird. Ask my friends.

    I'm really artsy. I love museums, books, HGTV, and space. I follow all of NASA's IG and twitter pages.(My dad works there, so I get it from him.) The corniest things can make me laugh. I love nature. I love being outside. My friends call me a flower child, mother earth, things of that nature because I love the environment and the earth. I'm just really in tune with myself, the world, nature, God, everything..to sum my personality up. My brothers and some of my friends call me a "hipster", but I don't think I'm a hipster. I don't like putting my personality into like a label/category because then it's like I have to fit that label all the time. I'm just Jas, and I'm constantly growing and evolving, so whatever things come with that are apart of "me".

What do you believe is your life's purpose?

    I believe my life's purpose is helping people. I believe you get your purpose from where your passions meet the world's needs. There's a lot of people in the world that struggle with how they view themselves and being ok with who they are. There are so many people that are scared to talk about things that they go through because they fear they'll be judged. There are so many people who feel like they're alone and that's not ok because that's so not true. Everyone is fighting their own battles in different ways, but we are essentially all trying to find ourselves daily. Whether or not people choose to show their struggles is a different story, but we're all trying to figure ourselves, and life, out. I feel like it's my job to let people know that. Like, we're all in this together. It's a journey that we can't do alone. So, I just like to make sure people understand that and help them get through it any way that I can.

What inspired you to be an advocate for self care?

     I've always had a very compassionate and caring spirit. When I was younger, I was always caring about people I didn't even know. People that would be left out, the people that got made fun of, etc.I had moments in school when I was bullied, when people I thought were my friends betrayed me and excluded me, so I understood. I never wanted people to feel the way I felt. I'm always curious about people like that. (which is probably why I'm a psychology major) So, everything that I went through in life led me to want to start telling people about the importance of self care. It really is so important, because we can get so caught up in the world that we forget to deal with ourselves. My great-grandmother always told me to take care of myself, so that I could take care of others.

Tell me about JasmynRuja.com. It seems to be a bomb destination for uplifting, spiritual content and inspiration. What drove you to create it and how do you develop the content for it? 

    Well,  jasmynruja.com started off as so many things. The name changed so many times. I started and stopped so many times. I used to watch youtube faithfully. So, I really started it wanting to make a youtube channel. I found that it was easier and more helpful for me to get all of my words out on paper. I love when I can see the things in my mind on paper because it makes it make sense to me. So, I figured why not start a blog. I doubted myself a lot, like a lot. But, one day I just kinda said to myself: "Girl, you have all of this stuff that you hold inside of your mind that could be helping someone" and I just went for it. It's like, why sit there and doubt myself over things, you know? Nobody can really say anything negative about it because it's my mind, and if they do it's none of my business. If it touches someone, I've done my job. 

    Another big part of it is my twitter rants. If something is on my mind, I might rant about it on twitter. They are always positive though. So, essentialy, jasmynruja.com is a website built on my own personal journaling and twitter rants.

     All of my content comes from my notebooks. I write every day. It helps me to clear my mind. One of the things I do the most is write letters to myself. I started this a long time ago when I started the self love journey. I would have days where I was being really hard on myself, and I would just write myself a letter of what I needed to hear in that moment. I would tell myself I was beautiful, talented, smart, worthy of amazing things. I love that I experienced whatever it is that I felt that drove me to start writing letters to myself because now, when I write. I just write the things that I feel like I need to hear the most. Then, I just share it with you all.

What are some projects/goals that you are currently working on and how do they tie into your overall life purpose?   

    Well, my biggest project/goal right now is getting my undergrad degree and going to Grad school for Social Work. Then, to go get that PhD in Social Work, yes ma'am. I'm also working on some photoshoots and collabs with other bloggers. Fun stuff. I'm really focusing on my happiness at the moment, so anything that can add to that I'm open to trying out.

    One other big thing I'm working on is something I really think the people that follow my blog and inspiration are going to like. I'm not going to spill that tea yet, but just know it's coming. 

What is your definition of success and happiness and how do you work to create that success in your everyday life?

     When you find what you're passionate about, it makes it easier to figure out what you want to do in life. The ultimate success is waking up everyday and not having to work. The way you do that is by finding something that makes you happy and turning it into your career. When you're doing what you love, you never have to work a day in your life. So happiness and success go hand in hand in my eyes.

     You're more successful when you're truly happy with what you're working towards or producing. So, I found a lot of things that make me happy. I love love love kids. I love their spirits. I love helping people. I'm truly passionate about the way children are raised, how they view themselves because I believe it has a big effect on their adult lives. So, that led me to want to be a Community Social Worker focusing on children and families, which is what I'm going to school for. 

The Walking Art Blog concept is all about artistic self expression through style. Besides a lot of uplifting, positive, insightful content on your website and social media, you can also catch a slay on your feed! What does expressing yourself through personal style mean to you?

     Thank you!! Girl, I be trying. Expressing myself through my personal style is so fun for me. I love to do my makeup. I love getting all cute and taking pictures. I think I express myself the most through my hair. I can never keep a single hairstyle for too long. I love different looks. It's so fun. It's like "Who do I want to be this time?" I actually do my own hair most of the time because I really enjoy it. It's therapeutic, and I know exactly how I want it to look so it's just easier.

     I love urban looks. Chunky twists, braids, faux locs. I love colors too. I'm always trying new things with my hair. I love doing my natural hair, also. Personal style is literally whatever makes you feel the most beautiful and the most like yourself. I don't think I have one exact style. If I like the way something looks, I'll wear it and I'll slay. I have a lot of fun getting dressed and made up though. I have my own mini fashion show most of the times. 

With the whole era of the "girlboss" going on, what is your perspective on women coming together on professional/ business ventures? 

     Honestly, if women worked together more instead of competing and hating on eachother, we'd be so unstoppable. I don't even think we understand how powerful we are individually. We LITERALLY give life. We are such incredible creatures, so imagine us actually coming together to work on projects, and events, and things like that. I mean, I think it would be so bomb. Unfortunately, we're taught by society that we have to compete with eachother or be better than the next woman to get ahead. But, girl if we worked together and built each other up? It would really be magical.

Thoughts? Leave your comments below, keep up with Jasmyn on her Twitter and Instagram and tune into her blog for more amazing, insightful content. 

 Sharra,  

"The definition of walking art."

"PICK A SIDE": LOOKS FROM A NEW ALTER-EGO THEMED SPREAD

STYLED BY SHARRA GREENE

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Developed for an upcoming online magazine...stay tuned for details.

Credits:

Photographer/ Creative Director: D. Rice Photography

Model: Amanda Lang of Dollhouse Management

Makeup Artist: Beauty by Idris

Styling and Co Creative Direction by Me

Pick a side...comment your fave look. 

Sharra,

"The definition of walking art."