Industry Insight

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.”

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.

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.”