Recently, I came across a post that quoted "Celebrate yourself. Nobody knows what it takes to be you." How true and personally for me, IRONIC. I get so many compliments and DM's on "how confident I am," "how I carry myself," "my sense of fashion" and sometimes I even get asked "how do you do it?" Believe me when I tell you, this didn't happen overnight. Today, I want to share with you where I came from, how I manage to pursue my dreams and career in fashion even through adversity and to assure you, you can do it too. When I first started this blog in 2012, the original objective didn't revolve around fashion and style. The point was to freely express myself and more importantly, FIND MYSELF. I struggled with depression, anxiety and very, very low self esteem during that time. I was so unconfident to the point that I was terrified to verbally express myself and thoughts to others, even my close friends and family. That lack of confidence and self love resulted in me choosing to settle for 1-sided relationships with men who didn't deserve me, who treated me like shit and led so many people to believe they could walk all over me... and at that point in my life, they could. I shied away from standing up for myself. It was almost like I had no identity and that's a very scary feeling. I'd put other people before me and even would protect the ones that did me so dirty. I let depression really get the best of me and lost myself for a few years. Literally spiraled out of control.
You never know what people go through until they tell you .., so let me tell you.
In a nutshell— When a person goes through traumatic experiences like losing my mom at 7 and actually having to hold her up in a bathroom until the ambulance arrived just to be told she was dead, no father around to console or protect me (ever) and then losing both my grandmother and my great-grandmother a couple years apart while I was in college, it's hard NOT to fall under depression. And can you imagine what my grades were like, terrible. I couldn't even finish school for my English degree and that was devastating to me because I did the best I could do in pushing myself through depression. I felt like I failed myself and my family. I came home to chaos, finding out I had family stealing from me. Unbelievable, right? At first, I questioned God as to why me? What did I do to deserve all these L's? I've lost so many people who hold high positions in my life, even recently lost a child early January of this year and that hurt more than anything. I still think about how my baby would've looked, who they would've grown to be and how life would be today. I don't think I'm ever going to stop thinking about that, even when I have children in the future. However, what's crazy is that that experience pushed me to go even harder to honor the life I briefly had inside of me. Life became way more real to me and so did my dreams, vision and goals. I'm so in love with my strength and that's really how I do it. One thing for sure, this all continues to teach me never question God. All these "L's" teach me how to FIGHT and to get through whatever life throws my way and to keep focused. Keep grinding. And really, these "L's" really arent losses but lessons. God is so real and when you ask, He answers. I'm on a path to success and it excites me that I'm able to do what I love in fashion. I'm learning day by day and I'm so excited to learn more as well as do more within the industry. That long path of pain, disappointment, depression and confusion has led me to where I am today.
All along, I didn't know that my blog would blossom into what it is today and during that hard time I didn't think I’d have the potential or strength to blossom into who I am today. This little girl would’ve never thought! And I owe it to her cause she’s been through so much.
I did not know that finding self-expression in how I dressed would flip into a career in wardrobe styling. In 2012, I never thought or dreamt that a blog I made to express my thoughts just because I was too scared to speak out loud would touch the lives of others. I've literally grown with this blog and am now ready to continue to help others grow and find themselves through inspiration and fashion using this platform. I’m currently collaborating with one of my closest friends, Mykeena, on a collection— mgcollections.co — and will be attending Misa Hylton Fashion Academy this fall for my certification in wardrobe styling!!! (Who’s cutting onions?) I’m focused on doing whatever it takes to get to it and I’m so proud of who I am becoming. If I could tell my younger self advice it would be “you’re gonna become bigger than you think and I promise you that.” True definition and meaning of "your steps are ordered." I am still working towards bigger and better for Killastylez blog and brand so stay tuned for updates.
Listen… without struggle, there's nothing to overcome. Without life's challenges, there's nothing to push you to want more from life and to fight for what brings you light, GOD AND YOUR PASSION. Turn your pain into passion and blossom into whatever you put your mind to. Envision it and be it.
You owe it to yourself.
Black women are so strong, courageous, passion driven and independent but often times we are so overlooked. As we celebrate Black History month and acknowledge those who have paved a way for us to have access to our rights to freedom, I feel that we should also celebrate ourselves, our creativity, our women. There are so many gifted women within the fashion industry and with pleasure, Killastylez acknowledges the work of black designers Tchianna Pembey, Mykeena Garcia, Sybille Guichard, Cierra Ross and Tanzii James.
Tchianna Pembey, Congolese singer and designer of Liputa Swagga, is truly a visionary and defines what it is to be a woman who is BAD ASS. I love that her line is inspired by African culture, full of vibrant colors, gorgeous fabrics and bold, beautiful prints. Intrigued by her futuristic concept, I was eager
to learn even more about the background of her brand. Her decision to create her line in 2013 was based on her desire to create a world that she views fit to be realistic— and I think we can all agree with her!
A world ran by WOMEN.
A world where women are superior, fierce, bold like her designs and are simply treated fair. We love to see it. Click the link for her website https://liputaswaggashop.com/ and follow her for updates and fashion https://instagram.com/liputa_swagga?igshid=1rhrzmob6qyue
Mykeena Garcia is a Brooklyn based designer, originally from the DMV. Making her move on her own to New York to follow her dreams is a step so many people run away from out of fear. But you can never stop a fearless woman with a plan, a vision, passion and drive. She created MG collections in 2017 and has continued to expand her brand. She has recently released her new collection “JOLIE,” a fun, flirty and sporty line. MG collections provides a wide variety of custom pieces, swimwear, jumpsuits, dresses gorgeous form fitting gowns and outerwear. Just by looking at the unique pieces that she releases and seeing all of the positive feedback on her work, you can tell that her objective is to make women feel beautiful through her designs. She achieves exactly that and that is what fashion is for. When you look amazing, you feel amazing. Stitch by stitch, she continues to thrive, succeed and make her mark within the fashion industry.
Custom pieces by Mykeena. For more fashion click the link https://mgcollections.co/ and follow her for updates https://instagram.com/mykeena?igshid=1l6e3mo7agnqx
Sybille Guichard is a Miami based shoe designer, a creative and a conqueror. She courageously shared her testimony on Instagram and I found it to be beyond inspiring. She battles Crohn’s disease and still manages to push through it all, shining through her beauty and creativity. Sybille defines strength, perseverance, faith and vision. She cannot be stopped and I really respect that. Her confidence is as high as her heels and that’s how it should be for all of us, ladies. If you have a dream, continue to follow it even through life’s adversity. I am amazed by the assortment of beautiful designs within her collection because they’re so unique. To lay eyes on the art of a creative is sometimes overwhelming because it’s amazing to see something that was once a thought is brought to life. I look forward seeing what’s next for the designer. Check out the SybG by Sybille Guichard shoe collection, it’s gorgeous! https://sybilleguichard.com/ and follow her journey https://instagram.com/sybg.co?igshid=1h71q8un3xaz1
Cierra Ross is owner of C.ROSS MADE and she started her business in April of last year. She was inspired to create something that would make women feel confident and beautiful. I love that she expresses herself and our culture through her designs. Literally, her originality shines through her craft. Every piece is different and so vibrant. She utilizes her craft to center her energy and patience. That stuck out to me because I think as creatives and as women, we all melt ourselves into our passion and gifts as an escape from our own chaos.
Cierra is a mother, earring designer and an uplifter for women. She is designing a different style of earrings all month to celebrate black women. I can’t wait to see what’s next and support her brand! https://www.crossmadeshop.com/
Tanzii James is a Brooklyn based costume and wardrobe designer who caught my eye! She’s in her own lane. Her pieces are so distinctive and sexy. The mix of different patterns and fabrics are fun and playful but breaks trend. I love and support black creatives and brands like Sustaina Heaux because there is no shying away from individuality. Tanzii is breaking the norm and as I said, breaking into her own lane within the industry. As Black women, people attempt to put us in a box and judge us if we break out of that dull box they try to hide our self expression in. Designers like Tanzii reassure me to feel free to wear what I want and do as I please as a bold woman. I hope to work with her brand soon! Keep up with her brand https://instagram.com/sustainaheaux?igshid=hq8l4b9vjs6v and check out her website for more dope content https://tanzaniajames.com/sustainaheaux/
Black women are EVERYTHING and you can’t hold us back from whatever it is we put our minds to. Happy Black History Month!
I don’t think there is anything more sexier than a woman who is confident and bold in every step she takes no matter what she’s been through. It doesn’t happen overnight for us. We fight to get to the point of loving who we are, both inside and out. The painful situations we face sometimes cause us to question ourselves— Miscarriage, abuse, infidelity, abandonment, molestation. It’s crazy to me that society teaches us to be submissive— take care of the home, tend to men and nurture the kids. But my question is, who’s doing that for us? Why is it so hard to believe that we can run the business and expect to come home to a hot meal on the table prepared by the man? It’s so rare to see that and even in regards to that type of arrangement, people laugh and judge. Why is it so funny that the roles can reverse, and if we women want it to, the roles SHOULD reverse? Why can’t it be heels at the head of the company table and not a tie? And if it is a tie, for fashionable reasons, why can’t it be a woman wearing it? Lol. I ask that to say this — LADIES, society can say what they want and men can think what they think but it doesn’t define you. It does not define us.
The most beautiful thing about women is that we are all different in appearance but somewhat are all the same deep down inside, at heart. We give birth for a reason. Our bodies go through the changes it does for a reason. We fall harder than men do because we are vulnerable. They say we have attitudes, especially when it comes to us black women, but that’s really called passion and strength from what we go through. We endure so much and still have the capability to be the backbone for our men, our children and our families. God made us this way for His own reasons and knowing that alone should give you strength no one can ever take from you. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made.
Today, I challenge you to self reflect and recognize your power as a woman. Y’all, we have a female VP! That speaks volumes and the fact that that it is causing an uproar speaks even louder. We can do and be whoever we want to be while looking good doing it. Read that again. Now, take hold of your power and acknowledge everything that makes you, you. Fall in love with yourself before you fall in love with anyone else. Don’t lose yourself to anything or anybody because if that person or thing causes you to do so, that’s not love and you should revoke access to yourself. You deserve the world and then some. Societal views can go to hell. It’s BEEN time for change. Visualize the woman you want to be and show up as her every time, UNAPOLOGETICALLY. And let yourself know, “I AM HER, UNAPOLOGETICALLY.”
Sending you nothing but positive vibes, love and blessings! Xo
Christmas is rapidly approaching and if you’re a last minute shopper like myself, I’ve got you covered. I could very well suggest the best in store or online sales but this year I’ve got something even better. There’s no better feeling than supporting our local small businesses, especially black owned! Building a business from the ground up and remaining solid in the process is beyond commendable. Killastylez acknowledges these brands for their consistent strive to not only build their businesses but our community as well.
From organic skin products, customized goods, poetry, handmade fashion forward pieces to jewelry and so much more, these brands can help you gift your loved ones with something they will always remember!
Read about the inspiration behind these amazing brands below and click the individual links to shop! Happy Holidays! Xo ❤️
“Prestige Republic is a luxury jewelry line that everyone can afford and anyone can take pride in. We offer everything from anklets, to bangles, to necklaces, and more. We are your one stop shop for all your jewelry needs. Our products never tarnish, are water resistant and nickel free as well. 🔱♥️ est. 2012”
The Bougie Books & Tees
“The Bougie Books and Tees is a brand that came about during COVID. It was a way for me to spend time with Charli while being out of work. We would come up with ideas and bring them to life through personalized planners or tshirts all based on black culture. It’s beautiful to see how excited she gets when our visions come to life. I feel that black children need to see more of us creating businesses.”
“-cide clothing launched in 2017 by Dashawn " Kenzo" Mckenzie in his brooklyn living room with one sewing machine and dream. He used the frustration from being homeless as a fuel to his ambition so he could propel his clothing brand into one of the best high fashion/ street wear companies worldwide.”
“Sporty Bees came about during the start of covid. Clothes in my closet went to waste since we were forced to stay inside. Also as a mom, entrepreneur, and dance instructor I’m always running around so I need to be comfortable. i find the most comfort in sweats and leggings. Most women love to be comfortable and every woman want to be sexy so why not be both? The Sporty Bees collection is perfect for running errands, the gym, Sunday cleaning, kicking back, links & drinks, quick meetings and even date nights. Sporty Bees winter collection is dropping tonight at 8pm. Let’s keep it comfy & cute this holiday season ❤️“
“Legally B.L.A.C.K ( Building Legacy as cultured kids) is a black owned apparel line for the culture! Their goal is to provide you with a fresh urban brand that will make you feel proud of what you're wearing. While also inspiring you to keep grinding, keep believing & go build a legacy !!
July 2018, Brand creator, Myasia Young, begin to manifest a clothing line . She wanted to create a brand that represented her life goals. To build and create legacy for her daughter. Legally of course.
November 2018 LEGALLY B.L.A.C.K (Building legacy as Cultured kids) was birthed and its been history ever since.”
- push your pen.
“My poetry brand which I write poems in regards to things and people in the world that inspire me to keep writing. My book Property of you is my first book written to tell different stories as if you were reading your own personal diary. I write to tell others stories as well as my own and touch on topics people are scared to say out load but everyone can relate to.”
King Beard Oil
“Kings Beard Oil is a natural remedy to dry, itchy & dull beards. Kings Beard Oil promotes healthy beard growth while moisturizing & providing a nice shine.
Inspiration comes from the constant question of what I used in my own beard so I created my own product to use for everyday life.”
“Reign Body was created based on my daughters skin , she has very dry skin and I wanted to make a moisturizer that lasted all day .” Her middle name is Reign and I wanted to have business for her so she can have something to work for and look forward to .She loves products that smell good and enjoys watching me make it .”
The Light In You
“The Light In You strives on creating products to help people ease anxiety and find peace through aroma therapy and healing crystals. Each buyer is able to customize their candle choosing the healing crystals best for their needs. Made with 100% Sox making each candle eco friendly.”
Style 86 Boutique
“My passion for wanting to always step out looking my best has been my drive to ensure that all women feel confident and look their best when getting dressed. That’s why I launched Style 86 Boutique. We sell high quality clothing and accessories that won’t break your bank. It’s important that all women do whatever is necessary to ensure that they are living their best possible life, so why not start with the perfect outfit. You can shop with us at www.style86boutique.com.”
Look from mgcollections.co
2020 has been a year filled with mixed emotions. I think it’s safe to say it’s been a very frightening roller coaster ride for the entire world. I could speak on the senseless and racist driven crimes, the countless deaths across the world due to Covid-19 and I could even talk about the bozo president but today, I want to shift the energy and conversation in a different direction.
Day by day, 2020 has been teaching us that life can drastically change overnight, literally. Anything can happen and we need to stop taking life and opportunity for granted. Let me double back on what I just said, “Anything can happen.” I was a little skeptical about sharing this but then I thought why not, maybe it’ll change someone else’s life just as it’s changing my own. Recently, I decided to leave my job. It was such a scary feeling but after hosting the Killastylez Boss Mixer, I felt like it was time to just go for it. I’ve been wanting to do this for so long but I didn’t feel like I was ready. I gave my all to a job that had very little respect for me, the creativity I brought to the job as a lead visual merchandiser and my well-being. The expectation to make the job my life was mind blowing and still is. My anxiety was constantly through the roof and I found myself putting my brand, blog and craft to the back burner. I was losing myself to a 9-5. The ironic part about that was this was the same 9-5 I blogged about a couple years ago in regards to “How to utilize a 9-5 as a creative.” I loved visual merchandising because it would challenge me to simply be creative with no limit. But then things changed. New management was terrible (all 3 of them back to back,) my creative input no longer held weight to company directive and I was given twice the amount of work because of their lack of staff. I wasn’t happy, in fact I became very depressed and overwhelmed with the drama, disrespect and inhumanity of the company. I continued to settle and even let certain things slide just for a paycheck. One manager illegally tried to change my pay just to bring his friend in for my position without reason. Can you imagine finding out you’re being demoted and HR knew nothing about it? He lost is job because of that. Another manager talked about me to multiple people in the store on a personal note and I certainly could have taken that to HR too. It was crazy. I couldn’t understand it and yet I still found myself back there for my scheduled shifts, wondering why am I here?
It was emotionally, physically and even spiritually draining. To lose yourself for a job that could replace you in a day and neglect your passion for that job was a horrible feeling. I felt weak. At that very moment I chose to choose me over them. Flew to Cali [during a pandemic] for a shoot. This didn’t end well at all due to lack of professionalism on the clients’ end but that gave me even more ammunition to REALLY Boss up and aggressively take my career to the next level. The plane ride back to New York, I was furious because of how things played out but then I realized that this was my first time to really take a risk. This was the exact moment of a rebirth of self, built on passion and faith. It was different. I was different. I returned to New York to continue to prepare for The Killastylez Boss Mixer and again, another eye opener. The turnout exceeded my expectations as well as the success of the event, not just for myself but for the vendors.
I was so inspired by all of the black owned businesses as well as all of the creatives and shoppers that came out to support. Everything really happens for a reason. If it wasn’t for the mixer, I don’t think I would’ve had this courage to never look back but to look forward to all of the things that will blossom from acting on my ideas and giving my all to my own business. Wardrobe styling and style blogging are my focus and I now choose to water my passion before anything else. If God gives you a gift, use it and share it with the world. The entrepreneur life is very new to me and I have my days where I get a little nervous about “how things may turn out” but that’s the thing. There is no routine, I’m not scheduled on “company time” and at the end of the day I have control over the outcome which will be success. Failure is not an option.
I say all of this to say that 2020 has had a lot of low moments but we have a little more than 2 months left to really change the narrative and walk into 2021 stronger than ever. Don’t ever settle. If you have an idea, set a goal and execute it. It may sound a little cliché but we can really be whatever/whoever we want to be. This year should show you that the ideal way of living, isn’t really that ideal. Businesses were shut down across the world and we were all put on pause. I found myself again during that time and am now taking the initiative to build my career. A blessing in disguise. Anything can happen so why not go for it, unapologetically.
In this world there are 2 different types of people: those who wait for things to happen and those who go and make things happen. Designer and CEO of -cide has definitely proved this to be true. Kenzo's passion and eagerness to not only perfect his craft but to out-do himself in each collection demonstrates determination, ambition and commitment. He has manifested his life, from overcoming homelessness to succeeding in building an impeccable brand that is now being sold in over 70 countries.
"If I didn't go through that, I don't think I'd have the ambition that I have now." -Kenzo
Kenzo, Guyana native, came to the U.S. at the age of 3. His family faced hardships that later led up to the unfortunate event of becoming homeless. He expressed this to be the most degrading time in his life and vowed to never be in that position again. Determined to provide for himself and his family, he chose to join the army. After being deployed into the national guard in 2011 for a few years, he returned to chase after his passion for fashion. It all started with the idea of a t-shirt line in 2014.
KENZO :"I wasn't crazy about it so I took up photography and videography. I was trying to find myself. During that time, I even invested in cryptocurrency. I was in shark mode."
He utilized the open field of social media and connected with other creatives in fashion. Manufacturing was too much of an unnecessary cost so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Early January 2017, he learned different techniques of sewing which blossomed into something life altering. His brand launched 3 months later! In addition to the capability of launching, he sold in over 70 countries within the first year. How amazing is that? I was so taken back by the time frame of his success. Although he wasn't 100% sure of what direction he wanted to head in when he first started, he invested in an idea and followed through. Hard work and faith can really bring you places you can't even imagine. I couldn't help but question how he felt when he got the news regarding sales.
KENZO: "It became a crazy passion after the epiphany that it really reached over 70 countries. I look at my pieces as art work. It gave me a feeling that I've never felt before."
"The meaning behind -cide is to kill it." Kenzo focuses on keeping the brand fresh and stylish to assure that anyone who wears his pieces feel confident, comfortable and fashionable. One of the things I found really cool is that he is inspired by his early childhood obsession, Dragonball-Z. If you look at the style of the pieces, you can certainly see the connection and recognize his attention to detail. His motivation also stems from the inspiration from lyrics of Drake, Biggie Smalls and overall 80's and 90's fashion. He has even collaborated with the late rapper's daughter, T'yanna Wallace, to create a Biggie inspired line. Yet another moment of manifestation! -cide has been sold in Africa, France, China, Algeria, Dubai and so many other parts of the world.
Kenzo is currently working on his new collection and I'm ecstatic for the launch! He quotes "I am aiming to outdo the last collection and break the boundary." In addition to how excited he is about putting out doper content and getting more people involved with the brand, he also mentioned upward mobility. His consistent seek for inspiration and his aggressive work ethic doesn't allow him to miss a day. "Time is way too valuable to waste." In fact, he urges every up-and-coming designer to keep that same focus.
KENZO: "Upcoming designers, use your resources to the best of your ability and use what the internet has to offer you. All it takes is one piece to change your life."
Kenzo's journey and rise to becoming designer and CEO of -cide defines the power of manifestation, passion, creativity and faith. From start to finish of our conversation, I was inspired and I am extremely encouraged. There is so much power in turning struggle into success. Faith takes you a long way and the passion behind that will get you to where you're destined to be. With the support of his beautiful wife and children by his side, his brand continues to break barriers in fashion in all parts of the world. After reflecting on his story and journey to where he is today, I asked Kenzo to give a word of advice to all creatives and to those who are trying to find their way in life.
KENZO: Creativity can change your life. Rest at the end of the day, not the beginning. Always stand at the brink of creativity. Make use of every day because every day matters. Whatever you want out of life you can get. It's really crazy how everything played out."
The world is constantly in awe of and inspired by the work of the iconic Dapper Dan. It excites me to witness that same passion and creativity in the work of his grandson, Akil Loving. I had the pleasure of going LIVE with Akil Monday night on Instagram where we discussed his latest feature in the New York Times, his passion for design, his love for 3-D printing and so much more.
Growing up in Harlem, he was surrounded by the style, culture and Dapper Dan's great influence and impact on fashion. Exposed to the world of fashion at the early age of 5, Akil learned and studied the techniques his grandfather taught him.
AKIL: "Cutting patterns was the biggest learning curve for me. It's a different beast."
We laughed about his stories of trial and error when it came to making a few of his first pieces in his kitchen. After overcoming this challenge and mastering the art of pattern cutting, he excelled in creating projects of his own as well as assisting Dapper Dan. Creating many of the looks we see on the red carpet and huge events like the Met Gala. I asked him one of the hardest questions that any designer would hesitate on, "what's your favorite design that you've made to-date?" He expressed that each design tops the last and his self-approval comes from that moment of this is it, this is the one. We also chatted about his preference in design and his view on what it really means to be considered "fashionable."
AKIL: "I like shit that's cool but makes your life easier. Something that serves its purpose. My grandfather always says you're not dressed fashionable unless it suits the occasion. You know? You could have the waviest streetwear fit ever but if it's a formal gathering, then you're not fly."
Humble as ever, Akil expressed his excitement and appreciation for the acknowledgment from NY Times quoting "It was a very nice surprise. It's cool to get recognition because I'm usually the guy behind the scenes." It was definitely well-deserved Akil! Reading the title alone "Dapper Dan's Grandson Sews His Own Gucci" was mind blowing. It was dope to not only recognize that talent is in the blood but that our generation does indeed have our very own "Dapper Dan" in a creative sense which just so happens to be his grandson. There is a bloodline within fashion and the connection doesn't always have to be family related but through creativity, style and passion. This is inspiring to all creatives in fashion because it demonstrates a historic flow of evolving culture within fashion. Akil is using his passion, gift and talent to aim beyond the meter and step outside of the box of society's definition of a designer.
AKIL: "I see when it comes to fashion, a lot of brands and a lot of people do shit that is so easily replicated and it doesn't really serve any purpose besides looking cool. It's all about aesthetics. It's not about quality anymore. I'd rather make that pair of jeans that you can literally wear everyday until they fall apart opposed to that t-shirt you can wear, take the pic for insta and that's it."
Akil Loving with grandfather and mentor Dapper Dan
Intrigued by overall design, Akil is very inspired by industrial designer Dieter Rams. So inspired that he even informed Dapper Dan about the luxury of 3-D printing. He shared with me that there are so many opportunities in 3-D design and that has sparked his interest among other areas such as furniture design. That's only a piece of what he plans on tapping into. Although I know that the mind of a creative is very complex, I was amazed and extremely inspired by this response.
AKIL: "I want to make the world around me a more cooler and beautiful place. I want to create my world around me when it comes to clothes, jewelry, accessories... no matter what it is."
This conversation was exceptionally inspiring especially in the midst of the dark and discouraging time that we're in right now. It was a much needed reminder to keep going, keep persevering and to keep creating. Fashion is constantly changing and is in consistent need of fresh, innovative ideas. The main objective is to keep each other (designers, wardrobe stylists, style bloggers, etc.) creatively inspired and motivated. I'm excited to continue to watch Akil grow within the fashion industry but even more excited to see how his skills will add to the evolution of fashion. Enjoy some of the designer's looks below. Sketch to finished look.
Designs by Akil Loving
SHO: Name 3 words that describe your brand.
Tommie: Vibrant, Dapper, Unique
SHO: What inspired you to build your brand?
Tommie: Since I was in 6th grade, between having a fitted cap to match everyone outfit and constantly being asked where I purchased my garments from let me know that I had a unique eye for fashion.
SHO: As creatives, we all have a story and we tend to give birth to our brand using a name that can express our journey. What’s your story behind the name of your brand?
Tommie: Growing up in the NYC/Long Island area the term “Get Money” was always used as a form of endearment. Whether you were playing sports, dancing, anything it’s just another phrase for doing your thing. And the type of person I am I want everyone around me and even people I don’t know to “Touch Money”. To do whatever it is that makes them happy & to make it happen by any means because that’s what life’s about. We as individuals all have our own talents and niche to fulfill, making clothes happens to be one of mine.
SHO: Fashion is constantly evolving. What direction can you see your brand heading in?
Tommie: I can see my brand branching out further into female and male markets. From comfortable street wear, preppy white collar garments, baby clothes, dresses, bathing suits, various styles I have plans for I don’t want to be put in just one category.
SHO: Does your brand follow current trends or do you rather go against the trend? Why?
Tommie: I was definitely inspired by the Ralph Lauren Rugby collections they always stood out to me, especially once it was discontinued. The styles and aura the clothing had stood out to me, I wanted to have the same effect with my gear. Fashion repeats itself so you can never fully go against the grain. However, I do like to add my own flair to whatever’s going on or have a head start on the next possible trend I feel is coming .
SHO: What’s the ultimate goal of your brand?
Tommie: My ultimate goal is to see my brand go global, continue to push the envelope and reach as many people I can in all age groups.
The perfect word to describe my style is COMPLEX. I dress according to the mood I’m in. One day I may feel super girly and the next I may walk out of the house looking the complete opposite. However, I do have go-to pieces that make up my day-to-day wardrobe and I have a common ground of Cozy. I define cozy as cute but comfortable.
I have a real thing for shades, it’s my favorite accessory. In my mind, it completes every look. This is the perfect example, I wore this pink satin blazer romper purchased from Boohoo with high ankle socks, white filaz and these dramatic shades purchased from Fashionnova. I love pieces that stand out and shades are a necessity.
Listen, once I get my blazer collection together you will be seeing me wear a blazer every day with everything! I live for a good blazer, especially with jeans and a graphic tee. But get this, usually when people think of blazers they think of work attire. I like to dress it down with sneakers. Make it a causal drip.
FOR EXAMPLE :
3. HIGH WAISTED JEANS
Low rise jeans do absolutely nothing for me. I love that high waisted jeans compliment my shape. Speaking of which, I choose Topshop jeans over any other denim. Every pair of jeans I’ve brought from Topshop is a perfect fit. It doesn’t give me that awkward space in the back, it’s just right. But yes, if I’m wearing any type of denim my go-to is always a high waisted pair.
4. GRAPHIC SWEATSHIRTS
I guess I can say I definitely like to find balance between style and comfort. I fall in love when I see pieces like this Zara sweatshirt because it’s so me. As I said, I have a very complex sense of style. Pieces like this give me the daily option of dressing it up or down.
5. Berets and Cabby Hats
For those of you who have been keeping up with my mannequin portfolio, you know I love to add a hat. I literally dress the mannequins as I dress myself lol. I don’t know what my fascination with these hats are about but I love it.
LISTEN ! A lot of people think that there’s no way to do both. “It’s either you quit your 9-5 and pursue your dreams or you lose out on what your life could be for a 9-5.” That’s so UNTRUE. There are so many people that have taken the risk to just focus on their passion and I really admire that. That takes a lot of faith and it speaks volumes. However, I am currently working a 9-5, I will be starting school in January and I’m working towards my career all at the same time! It took me some time to learn how to balance but after years of searching for what the key is to succeed in doing this, I’ve found the key y’all. Several.
1. The top priority is to utilize your 9-5 for financial gain to put towards your business. Every dollar I put towards my business is well spent. Shoots do not pay for themselves, unfortunately. Models, Glam squad and studio all have to be booked. And HELLO! You can’t forget the wardrobe.
2. In your down time, make time for whatever you need to get done for your business. In my case, I do visual merchandising for Forever 21. This requires me to do window displays, floor setup and MANNEQUINS. I could halfass it because “it’s just a 9-5” but I don’t! I utilize the 9-5. I try to outdo myself mannequin by mannequin and feed my creativity. I also build a portfolio from all of the mannequins I style. I share photos of my mannequins on Instagram as well.
3. Bring work to work. We all experience “slow days” at any 9-5. It doesn’t matter if you work in an office, retail or restaurant. If your dream means what you think it means to you, MAKE THE TIME FOR IT. Even if it calls for you to get work done during your lunch break, do it. Today, I brought my laptop with me to get work done on break and it made my entire day. Creating mood boards for one of my clients cleared my head and put me in such a creative space. It felt great. Doing what you love should make you feel that.
4. Make connections within the company. It does not hurt to ask questions or have simple conversation with your colleagues. You never know who knows who and as big as it seems, this world is so small. For those of you in retail who are looking to get into the Fashion industry, take full advantage of this. You actually have an advantage.
5. RESEARCH! Everyone has a phone. Instead of scrolling on Instagram while you’re counting down the hours to clock out, search for networking events. Read about the tools and skills you need to develop to make you the best at what you actually want to do in life. Self educate yourself in your down time. I do this sometimes without even realizing. Another pointer for any person reading this that is working in retail, you have another advantage. You have no choice but to stay updated on trends, whether it be street fashion or straight from the runway. We’re surrounded by clothes more than we are around our own families. Keep yourself knowledgeable of what merch you have in your store and use it! Create different ideas, brainstorm off of that and apply it to your craft. Do your research😉.
6. BE ON TIME. I’m the worst at time management but I’m finally learning that if you can be punctual everyday, you’ll build the consistency of being on time to anything and that’s CRUCIAL. How could you run a business if you can’t be on time?
7. This is the most important key: YOU MAY HAVE CLOCKED OUT BUT NOW IT’S TIME TO CLOCK INTO WHAT YOU’RE CHASING AFTER. Work does not stop at 5PM or whatever time you clocked out for the day. You just got through working FOR* someone and the goal is to break free of that. We can’t accomplish that by going home and calling it quits for the day. Nothing will get done if YOU DON’T DO IT because you are your own boss. Until you reach the success of having others work for you, it’s all on you.
These are little steps I’m taking to being successful in using the 9-5 and not letting it use me. I hope you find this to be helpful and can apply it your own life. Keep chasing after your career. You’re closer than you think. We got this.