All Articles Tagged "fashion designers"

After 20 Years, Sharene Wood & Her Husband Expanded Their Custom Designs To Retail

October 23rd, 2014 - By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
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Photo by Ronnie Wright

Photo by Ronnie Wright

“I always knew I wanted to work for myself,” Sharene “Shay” Wood remembers of the decision that inspired her to co-found custom clothing company 5001 Flavors with her friend, now husband, Guy. Impressed by Guy Wood’s tailored style, a music label rep approached him to style and act as an image consultant for an artist. Shay, then in college at Columbia University, partnered with him.

“From that job,” Wood explains, the referrals started rolling in. “We went from one client to two to 10 to 20… and helped create the look of a lot of up-and-coming artists who went from obscurity to fame almost instantly. One of the interns on an early shoot was Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs. Befriending that intern [led] to working with this entire roster of artist[s] [at] Bad Boy.”

After two decades building 5001 Flavors, working with artists including Will Smith, Alicia Keys, Dwyane Wade, and Jennifer Lopez, the Woods have opened a companion store, Harlem Haberdashery. We asked the president and CEO how she juggles both businesses, her thoughts on the stereotypes that make caricatures of “boss ladies,” and her opinion on the recent news that Facebook and Apple are expanding their employee perks to include egg freezing.

MadameNoire: Designing custom looks for celebrities can be a 24/7 job in and of itself. What motivated you to extend the brand with Harlem Haberdashery?
Sharene Wood: 5001 FLAVORS was in business for 20 years when Guy and I knew we wanted to open a retail shop. We wanted to keep the custom division catering to our celebrity clientele in tact and separate and came up with the concept of Harlem Haberdashery… [to cater] to stylish individuals that had their own red carpet moments and had their own unique fashion sensibility.

MN: Did you have any prior experience in retail?
SW: We did not have prior retail experience, but had 20 years of business experience with 5001 FLAVORS and knew that we had a great consumer base uptown that loved our style and wanted designers that [were] not being sold there.

MN: Why open a brick-and-mortar versus an online shop?
SW: 5001 FLAVORS has always been a consultant-based business. We knew we wanted to open a store to serve as a brand statement from its design and decor to its product offering. We wanted to create a brand destination spot for our fans, followers and pre-existing client base that lovingly brought over from 5001 FLAVORS.

MN: You’ve successfully run a business with your husband for two decades. What’s your advice to people currently working with or considering going into business with a spouse/family member?
SW: We both work together to create a business legacy for our family. That is the main focus of everything that we do at home and at work. You have to have respect for one another in each role that each family member has to assume. You have to create boundaries and balance so that spending so much time together is a joy and not a hassle.

MN: There are so many caricatures of “boss ladies.” How do you define yourself as a boss?
SW: I am a mother, wife, sister and then a boss. I consider all my titles as important and vital. I think we all should consider ourselves bosses so that we are all accountable for our own successes and failures. Being a boss is being in control of your own destiny and I have always been the captain of my soul, master of my ship even when I didn’t have the title.

MN: Recently, Facebook and Apple announced they are offering their female employees a $20,000 egg freezing perk. What do you think of this benefit?
SW: I wonder who thought this was a needed benefit. [I] hope it helps females who are interested in that perk, but I think that flexible working schedules, [and/or] at-home working arrangements would be very beneficial to working moms and dads. I have a six year old and I know that it truly takes a village to help raise that child. I think we need to create a balance so that mothers do not have to feel like they need to delay parenting to be able to have the home/ work success that we all dream of.

MN: What is your advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs?
SW: Network with like-minded individual individuals. Educate yourself about technology, organizations and community and industry resources so that you are always well connected.

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of Powder Necklace. Her fiction is included in Africa39: New Writing from Africa south of the Sahara. Follow her on Twitter @nanaekua.

If you want to be a boss, you have to think like one. Check out more on our first annual selection of MN Bosses here.

Calling All Fashion Designers! Boutique PNK Elephant Is On The Hunt For Visionaries With An Eye for Style

February 12th, 2014 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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PNK fashion designerAre you a fashion designer that visualizes en vogue pieces that evoke a “wow!” factor? If so, you’re in luck! PNK Elephant — a boutique owned by Kijafa Vick (wife of NFL quarterback Michael Vick) and Blair Sandlain — are looking for designers who have eye-catching visions for accessories, shoes, and/or dresses.

To give you a quick background, PNK Elephant come to be after Vick and Sandlain discovered what they considered a lack of affordable and fashionable accessories on the market. Starting as an online site, PNK Elephant became a virtual retail heaven for budget-conscious fashionistas.

Soon after, the brand gained traction and PNK Elephant trinkets were seen on pop culture icons such as Miley Cyrus, Adrienne Bailon, and Angela Simmons. Vick and Sandlain then landed in Philly to launch their flagship PNK Elephant boutique. With the brand’s success taking an fast, upward trajectory, PNK Elephant wants to take a fashion visionary along for the ride. They want to partner with a designer in order to expand.

“We are looking for someone at every stage of the design process, we are looking to build a team sort of like a think tank. This group of people should embody the personality of a PNK party girl. Our main focus is the party girl, the girl that likes to entertain,” Sandlain told us.

Adding to the excitement, the winner’s designs will be carried in the US and even Saudi Arabia. “We are currently expanding internationally as we speak,” Sandlain said. “We are not allowed to talk about this venture as of yet.”

The PNK Elephant collection embodies a “fun and flirty” motif — and they love body con dresses. Vick and Sandlain are looking for fashion designers to add some extra “oomph” — which PNK Elephant already has a lot of — to their summer and spring line of shoes, dresses, and accessories.

If you think you’ve got that je nais se quoi that PNK Elephant is looking for, Sandlain encourages you to send your designs to BSandlain@PNKELEPHANT.com. The deadline is February 28th to contribute to the spring and summer collection, but they will still accept applications for the line thereafter.

“We are the go to party girls so being apart of the team means fun and partying and lots of both. We operate like a family so when you become apart of our team your like family,” Sandlain said.

Leaving us on an inspirational note, PNK Elephant launched a campaign titled “Girls Hustle Harder” to instill empowerment in business-minded women who yearn to follow Vick and Sandlain’s footsteps.

We like to lead by example, we juggle personal and business all while saving time to party,” Sandlain explained. “We are knocking down doors that were never open for us, in hopes that other women follow our path.”

“Girls Hustle Harder” plans to go on tour with inspirational figures to motivate young women to thrust themselves through roadblocks to reach their entrepreneurial dreams.

Growing an Accessory Line by Design

September 22nd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Black Enterprise) — Identical twins Corianna and Brianna Dotson left their hometown of Minnesota at 19 to make their dream move to New York City. Starting with little-to-nothing, these two go-getters tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit and established Coco and Breezy, a futuristic-inspired accessories and eyewear line. Fast-forward, two years later and the 21-year-olds have gone from designing each piece by hand to producing their products on a larger scale. Celebrities from Nikki Minaj to Serena Williams have been spotted wearing their shades, and most recently Beyoncé donned their “Uni” bracelet in her “Let’s Move!” video.

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Designing Duo Finds Inspiration Everywhere

September 13th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(The Root) — Somalian-American twin designers Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, of the line Mataano, presented their Spring 2012 collection Sunday night at the Time Warner Center, offering a mix of tropical prints, vintage silhouettes and vibrant colors. Inspired by the 1960s and ’70s, the call was for pleated, silk-chiffon multilayered skirts, washed silk, crepe de chine floral, dotted bandeau tops and print stretched-cotton rompers.

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Harlem Designers Strut Their Stuff

May 16th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(New York Daily News) — It’s time to meet the finalists.  Six young, African-American designers have applied for the chance that could launch a career. Thanks to Harlem’s Fashion Row, three of them will present runway shows uptown on Sept. 16, during the next New York Fashion Week.  And it’s up to New Yorkers to decide who makes the cut.  “We looked for people who have a very clear vision,” says Brandice Henderson, founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row. “I wanted someone who had a picture in their head of the person they are dressing.”  From 15 semifinalists, Hender son and her team culled the top six, evaluating portfolios and interviewing designers in person. In the end, three will make it to the runway, backed by a marketing push and a network of fashion industry know-how — all for free.

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Gap's Top Designer Gets the Boot

May 6th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Wall Street Journal) — A year ago, top Gap designer Patrick Robinson stood alongside Oprah Winfrey and Vogue Editor Anna Wintour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art overseeing the New York fashion industry’s most prestigious gala.  Thursday, he was out of a job. His departure after four years of lackluster results was yet another sign of Gap Inc.’s failure to breathe new life into its namesake brand, which peaked in the mid-1990s.  It also underscores how difficult it can be for a retailer to set itself apart with jeans, T-shirts and other staples that can be found everywhere.  Mr. Robinson’s appointment in spring 2007 received considerable fanfare. His resume boasted stints at Perry Ellis, Anne Klein and Giorgio Armani, as well as a degree from the Parsons School of Design. He was named one of Vogue Magazine’s 100 rising stars in 1996.  Mr. Robinson notched some successes, including a revamped line of jeans that was critically and commercially well-received. But overall, improvement didn’t materialize. Same-store sales at Gap brand’s North American stores declined for 14 of the 16 quarters of his tenure.

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The Bearded Dandy of Brooklyn

January 5th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(New York Times) — OUIGI THEODORE, the founder of the Brooklyn Circus, a retro-urban fashion boutique and label, has heard it all before: dandy, preppy, Anglophile, fop. Still, he was flummoxed when a customer walked into his boutique a year ago, took one look at the bow ties and straw boaters for sale, and declared it the height of “steampunk.”  Mr. Theodore, 35, had to Google the word to find out that it referred to a neo-Victorian style built around gas-lamp-era suits, starched collars and gold watch fobs. “It’s a mix of old and new, so I guess that’s the comparison,” he said as he took a break from chatting up customers in his boutique on a recent Friday. He wore a pair of Mark McNairy red-and-black wool trousers and a newsboy cap, accessorized with a Balinese scarf, silver Navajo rings and a camouflage German military jacket. The look was Jelly Roll Morton, channeling Hendrix.

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New York Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire Starting Fashion Line

December 23rd, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(News One) – Moving from the Arizona desert to the bright lights of New York has given the Knicks’ Amare Stoudemire a way to express himself as a true fashion (power) forward.  The NBA standout is now in talks to launch a possible fashion line, reports the New York Post.  In September, the all-star told the Post that he’s long had a love of fashion so his jump into the world of haute couture isn’t a shocking move.  “I love fashion…I love watches. I love shoes. I make sure that every time I step out of the house, I’m feeling comfortable and fashion-forward. Depending on the occasion, I dress the part,” he said in an interview with the paper’s Page Six Magazine.

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Local Designers Go Global to Create Their Unique Styles

November 15th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) — Nita Brown came to Rochester a decade ago to work for Eastman Kodak Co. after earning her MBA from Georgetown University. In her own warddrobe, she has always combined styles from Ghana with Western influences, and people would often stop her on the street and ask her where she purchased her clothing. Two close friends encouraged her to start a design business.  She left Kodak in 2004 and actually started two businesses: MansaWear, her design company, and a travel company called Red Sandal Tours. She stays in Rochester because she wants to raise her daughter, Mansa, here.  Ghanians have a very distinct sense of style that’s different from other parts of Africa, Brown says. The clothes are form-fitting and figure-flattering.

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Black Female Designers Freshen the Fashion Scene

November 10th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(The Network Journal) — It may seem hard to break into the apparel business in one of the world’s fashion capitals if you happen to be Black and female, but there is hope! A new crop of black women have hit the fashion scene, attracting attention with distinct design points of view and are poised to rival many of the American fashion houses that have reigned over high-end fashion for decades.  One designer, who may be well on her way to eventually reap the same amount of multimillions in revenue as her mainstream counterparts, is Anitra Mitchell, a New York-based designer and creator of fashion clothing collection Plutocracy. Launched in May of 2009, Plutocracy is a stylish, mid-priced collection of women’s wear designed for what Mitchell refers to as “the multifaceted professional woman with a desire to express her individuality while showcasing a style that is creatively polished.”

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