International, luxurious and sustainable- Three words to describe the collection of up and coming designer Sonya Vajifdar. Featured in this year's Los Angeles Fair Trade Fashion Show, Vajifdar showcased her latest collection "The Organic Bloom". Honoring the combination of Parisian and organic couture, the collection proved that sustainable fashion can be both achievable and luxurious. The traveling designer with a message, travels between various countries. Lucky for us the Indigo Stop was able to capture an alluring Q&A interview with her, where she discusses her past experience as a designer, what her brand stands for and more.
IS: What sparked your interest in fashion?
SV: In my childhood I used to read comic books like 'Archies', I used to draw Betty and Veronica and admire their dresses and redesign outfits for them. I believe my interest in designing started there.
IS: What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?
SV: I initially thought Fashion Marketing would be a more lucrative career path, and enrolled at IED for a Fashion Marketing course, but being in Milan the fashion capital of the world and seeing girls on the street in amazing clothes I immediately knew that my heart was drawn more towards designing than marketing.
IS: Are you self taught or did you study fashion design?
SV: I studied fashion and textile design for 3 years at IED, after which I interned with a French company called Estrelle. I then returned to India to work with an Indian designer.
IS: How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
SV: I started my label with designer raincoats all made out of plastic, going into couture gowns made of pure chiffon and silk. I recently completely rebranded my label into an eco-friendly and high fashion brand using only organic fibers and recycled materials. I now concentrate on finding unique and unconventional items to up-cycle and use in my garments.
IS: What is the inspiration behind your work and your collection?
SV: Inspiration can come from possibly anything from music, nature, photography, emotions and other designer silhouettes. I enjoy creating my own textiles so the idea of being able to use waste materials in my garments really pushed me to create a collection of eco couture garments.
IS: How is it like to start a brand in Los Angeles?
SV: This year my brand (SONYA VAJIFDAR) took part in the 3rd edition of the Fair Trade Fashion Show in LA and one of my garments was selected as the show stopper and I was consequently blogged about by fashion influencers after the event. My brand is now online for sale at Bead & Reel (www.beadandreel.com) as well as being displayed in a private showroom for celebrity stylists.
IS: How is your work received internationally?
SV: The brand is now available in stores in Los Angeles, New York, Dubai, London, Cape Town, Johannesburg and India. We are also constantly featured by bloggers worldwide. We have started a social media campaign called #knowyoursource to build awareness about sustainable fashion and we are so excited to have bloggers, fashion influencers and celebrities participating in this campaign.
IS: What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
SV: Recycling and protecting the planet.
IS: What advice would you give to young designers?
SV: I would advice all young designers to be persistent, to never give up on your vision, to take risks and go with your instincts. Fashion is an industry that will never get saturated and there is always place for innovative designers.
IS: What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
SV: To be available in many more stores internationally, to grow online sales and to make my mark in the fashion industry as an eco-couturier.
IS: Are you currently working on any big projects?
SV: Currently working on up-cycling soda cans and creating red carpet gowns out of them.
IS: What's your motto?
SV: #reuse #recycle #restyle
Rhinestones, lingerie and chokers- What more can a LA girl ask for? Luckily for us Ekaterina Gladysheva provides that and more with her brand GK Goddess. Sitting at a decorated restaurant in Koreatown called “Café Mak”, the designer told me her tales from Russia and her past designing experiences. Now placed in a new environment, Gladysheva is working on taking over the Los Angeles fashion scene as she did in Moscow.
From Russia with Style
Like every other stylish girl in the world, she enjoyed styling outfits for her Barbie doll. Her interest turned into a talent as her mom taught her how to sew. At the age of 8-years-old, her first client was her blonde haired, blue eyed Barbie doll. She always had an interest in fashion and continued being stylish and artistic.
“From her drawing s and fantasies she created her own brand,” Olga Gladysheva said.
“First she sewed clothing for her dolls, herself and then for photo-shoots.”
In college, Gladysheva studied advertising and graphic designing. She then decided to change her career goal to focus on fashion. In order to graduate, she had to do diploma work. Her most notable clients were the musical group LMFAO. Now if anyone knows anything about these infamous party rockers, it is that their wardrobes are far from shy. Leopard print, neon and Afros were fun; but, a little bit too loud for her taste. Though she already knew that she wanted to start her own brand, she continued to work for other people including many producers. She loved the experience but, she was finally ready to create her own line. Her first self-made collection pieces were custom made chokers. She started off making and selling items for her friends and eventually the line grew from a hobby to a business.
“I remember looking at a Calvin Klein billboard and thinking I want to design something like that,” Gladysheva said.
“Blending luxury, lingerie and glamour, was my goal with creating my line”.
Inspired by the Calvin Klein billboard, Gladysheva had a fascination for combining luxury and lingerie. She began wearing her own pieces, until she received an offer from a showroom in Russia. The showroom offered to sell a few of her items including chokers and her high waist lingerie. After being a part of the showroom, she noticed the amount of love her clothing line was receiving. The business was going great in Moscow; but Gladysheva could not fight the urge that she wanted the business elsewhere.
Catching the LA Vibes
Moscow and Los Angeles are obviously two different cities but, according to Gladysheva, they have completely different visions of fashion, style and modesty.
“I appreciate the style and vibe of Los Angeles,” Gladysheva said.
“In Moscow, you can’t show off your body and you need to be covered up all the time but, in LA everyone allows you to wear whatever you want.”
Luckily, this was not her first encounter to Los Angeles. She visited on two separate occasions and her visit included staying a week in Downtown Los Angeles. Though it was at first hectic for her, the city made up for it, with its’ weather, beaches and the hidden gems like Old Town Pasadena.
New York was another U.S city that Gladysheva considered moving to but, the business of the city reminded her too much of Russia. She loved her hometown even though it was constantly surrounded with people who were very busy and ran completely on a schedule. Los Angeles fulfilled her love for both fashion and chill vibes.
Initially her parents were not on board with the move, like any other parent would be about moving internationally. After seeing, Gladysheva’s effort for the transition, they accepted the move and supported her dream. Living in Los Angeles boosted the brand’s name in the independent fashion industry. With the new fame came networking, more opportunities and a large following.
“It feels great being in Los Angeles. I mean it is a lot of work but, it is worthwhile,” Gladysheva said.
“Every day I meet new people in the fashion industry and everyone is able to keep in touch and grow together.”
Moving to Los Angeles inspired both new pieces and a new name for the line, GK Goddess. The name came from a combination of her style and her initials.
The line’s collection includes: sexy swimsuit and lingerie sets. Trimmed with the bands logo and strapped in various ways, the sets are the fan favorites of the line. Still creating various products also improved the brand’s Instagram page. Social media was a strong strategy to grow the following of the lingerie line. Tactics like having bloggers modeling the products and creating giveaways keeps the brand flowing. Her collection is still growing and glowing with the addition of pieces with rhinestones and fringe. With new additions in clothing articles comes a heavy amount of work, that is a lot for the self-ran business.
“My current goal is to add more people are on the team and increase my following,” Gladysheva said.
Currently Gladysheva is networking in Los Angeles and building her brand one step at a time. What is next for the Russian beauty? Building a fashion empire of course. First Moscow, Second Los Angeles and then maybe the world.
Being in front of the camera with editorials and other shoots, Porscha Woodard gained an interest in being both the muse and the designer. With her love for fashion and heavy resume within the industry, this self-taught business woman shifted from a model to a lingerie designer. Her self-titled collection Porscha Starr, has been featured in music videos, photo shoots and television shows. Now it is a heavy contender for lingerie empires like Fredrick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret.
Around five-years old, Woodard had the eye for fashion. She enjoyed playing dress up with her mom’s clothes and choosing outfits for her dolls. Though she took an interest in her mom’s outfits, she gives credit to her grandma for inspiring her fashion sense. Covered in fur coats and extravagant accessories, Woodard’s grandma inspired her love for fashion and eye for luxurious pieces. Her fashion career continued in 2011, when she became a model. Her work included modeling for print, music videos and walking in runway shows. Though she loved the experience she saw it as a hobby that she gets paid to do.
“All of the sudden, I realized I did not want to be in front of the camera anymore,” Woodard said.
“I wanted to be behind the camera and work with the business side of fashion.”
With this realization she decided to start her own fashion line. Her first step was to decide what line of fashion she wanted to go into and how to do it.
Self- Made Businesswoman
The fashion industry is built by a collaboration of artists including models, designers, creative directors and more. It is no surprise that models are taking their talents to the creative teams behind the outfits. From the fabulous model Kimora Lee Simmon’s shift to designer and creative director; To the iconic Iman’s move as a curator for an accessory and jewelry line; Models are immersing in all forms of the industry.
After modeling for a few years, Woodard was interested in starting her own clothing line. Most people would come into the industry with hesitation to start off their journey in the industry. Woodard on the other hand jumped right into it. Her first step was choosing a line of clothing to get into. After modeling for various shoots with the theme of lingerie, she developed the eye for spotting great sexy items.
“I always been a believer that sexy sales,” Woodard said.
“We live in a world that people looks as things sexy as hot. So I thought it was a good idea to go into selling lingerie, because they are always advertising sex on television, film and music videos.”
Besides the target audience, Woodard herself loves lingerie and been interest in it since she was young. She was obsessed with watching the lingerie fashion shows from Victoria’s Secret and looking into the products of Fredrick’s Hollywood and Trashy Lingerie. In order to start her business, she got into contact with wardrobe stylists for industry advice, after she went into wholesale. Wholesale is selling large quantities of products retailed and made by others. This is usually the first step for curators to make profit in the fashion industry, especially if they do not have experience with designing and sewing. She opened her own showroom in Downtown Los Angeles, and started studying business at Liberty University. She took the course online but, learned even more being in the real world. While working in her showroom she had hands on experience with the industry that students do not really get the chance to see within a classroom.
With her showroom, Woodard was prepared for the industry even before her fashion journey started. She went from wholesaling and retailing to creating her own lingerie collection.
She hired a team of designers from FIDM in Downtown Los Angeles. The fashion school allows people from the fashion industry to post jobs and internships on their career board. Woodard did so and ended up hiring FIDM alumni costume designers, photographers, and professional models from Model mayhem. She also found stylists from the industry that she previously met as a model. She went through several different pattern makers and designers however; it was a struggle to find a solid team. Her new designer squad became a unit and the team moved as one.
“The hardest part was to build a solid team to believe in my vision and bring it to real life,” Woodard said.
Being involved in the industry, Woodard networked with carious people within the industry. Even she agrees that modeling made it easier to shift her career into business mode. With networking handled and a solid team built, Porscha Starr shined throughout the industry and is growing day by day, along with Woodard’s growing industry.
Mixing Business & Motherhood
Porscha Starr is growing with an effective team and beautiful lingerie for various occasions. Not only does Woodard want to focus on the branding she also cares deeply for the products she is selling.
“One of the main things I focus on with designing lingerie is comfort,” Woodard said.
“I want the girl who wears my clothing to not only feel sexy; but, to also get her money’s worth in the outfit she loves.”
Woodard herself is a huge fan of lingerie and appreciated how it makes her feel. To her it is the closest thing to comfortable, because it is the one thing a woman can wear and be almost naked without being naked. Like swimwear, she feels that wearing less makes women feel like a million bucks and it gives women a certain amount of confidence.
Her brand designs lingerie that is perfect for under garments and sex appeal. The brand features a complete line of lingerie, costumes, club wear, hosiery and leather. The brand is growing and being featured in music videos, showrooms, editorial shoots and more.
“Her style is daring and creative,” photographer Arthur St. John said.
“ She is not afraid to experiment and thinks outside the box. I loved working with her.”
When she is not working on the brand, she is also tangling her time to her family’s business. She recently moved back to California, to manage her little brother’s music career and video shoots. She also is focusing on her one-year old daughter’s growing brand. Little Isis Chanel Chambers, Woodard’s daughter and new business partner is following her mother’s footsteps. This one year is juggling a career as a model, gymnast, dancer and fashionista. Every day is something going on for this business and family woman. Though frightening for most, Woodard loves the thrill of juggling three businesses.
“I think its I always had a crazy drive and I always want to do stuff,” Woodard said.
“I love being involved in all of the things I am working on and my daughter is the person that keeps me motivated and continuing to do better.”
Currently, Woodard is trying to work on the brand an increase the publicity of the lingerie line. They plan on working with style house for more styling shoots and music videos movies commercials.
“I would like to be in the competition with Victoria’s Secret,” Woodard said.
“I also want more people and more awareness of the brand. Overall I just want everything on a bigger scale from shoots to sales, more everything.”
Taking on the fashion world visually is a role that Justice Piggue already acquired as a photographer. Following the careers of other renowned photographers, Piggue decided to reimagine her career, this time as a fashion designer. Designers are challenged with the brutal honesty, as well as the dishonesty of the industry. Piggue learned that it takes a team that is both “Humble and Hungry” to achieve whatever they put their mind to.
With California origins, Piggue was already aware of her artistic dreams in the bright lights, big city. In Las Vegas, Piggue had a growing career as a photographer. Working with various muses such as fashion, music and artists helped inspire her passion for other fields.
“It was out of nowhere that I decided I wanted to have my own clothing line,” Piggue said.
Being a photographer helped widened Piggue’s visual talents and increased her skills needed for her own brand. Her next step was researching ways to create her own brand and she realized she needed a helping hand.
Nalani Carter, Piggue’s friend and business partner, is the second in command of “Humble and Hungry”. While maintaining her grades and finishing school, Piggue approached her with the idea of starting their brand after coming up with the idea.
“At first I thought it was just an idea,” Carter said.
“After she showed me the photos of the brand and we started visiting designers it all hit me.”
Even though, the idea came from nowhere, both Piggue and Carter had dabbled a little into the fashion world. Both have been told consistently that they had great style and Piggue participated in one high school fashion class. The idea was there but Piggue soon found out, that she needed more than a vision and trust worthy partner to create a clothing brand.
“As I was getting more information about starting a brand, I realized that creating a brand is not a one man job,” Piggue said.
“If you want a successful brand you need more than one person.”
Building A Team
Fashion is typically a hard career to handle alone. One person cannot stand the stress of designing a line, marketing it, purchasing it and etc. It is rarely completely run by a single individual. Of course one individual can have the idea, it takes a team of graphic designers, salespeople and marketers to further that vision. Finding creatively talented people is a hassle, but it can be accomplished. The difficult part is building a team with people you can trust.
“For me it was like creating a business partnership with someone I trusted, out of anyone in this world I trusted her the most”, Piggue said.
Piggue presented the idea to Carter by showing her visuals and ideas of the collection. Carter participated by finding graphic designers that can turn their dreams to real life. Building a brand with a partner is usually not easy but both Piggue and Carter utilized what they called-a collaboration factor.
“The idea of this factor is networking with other people”, Piggue said.
“Even though we know the same people, everyday we interact with different kinds of people who can support our brand.
In the process of looking for a designer, the duo met Rick Juego. Juego was previously a designer for well known brands such Diamond Supply and Crooks & Castles.As time went by the team grew with various designers and followers for the brand. One of the brand’s followers includes Piggue’s assistant, Angel Gutierrez. Gutierrez has been Piggue’s photography assistant for two and a half years and has contributed to viewing the behind the scene process of the brand.
“I love the brand humble and hungry because it was brought upon hard work and dedication”, Gutierez said.
“Her brand also speaks a lot about her, not only is she a humble and respected person but she's also a hungry, hard working and goes for her dream type of person.
“Humble & Hungry”
“Seven months ago at my grandma’s house, I came up with the name of the brand,” Piggue said.
“After what I went through with this brand, I realized that I had to be hungry to achieve and humble at the same time.”
Popular street wear brands struggle to find the wow factor incomparable to other brands. Other brand’s niche relates to vintage, throwback, skater and hip hop culture. The brand focuses on the grind to get to the top, and their model of being both humble and hungry. The duo’s current goal is to continue to spread their motto and inspire the message throughout the youth.
The current pieces of the brand are the Humble & Hungry Signature shirt and jacket. Both pieces of the introductory collection showcase the brand’s logo with various symbols representing the brand such as a lion and a money bag. As time goes by the brand’s collection will continue to add new pieces based off of the brand’s response. So far, the windbreakers and shirts have been a fan favorite and are continuously selling out. Though Piggue wants to continue the street wear style of the brand, in the future, she wants to switch it up by adding various pieces like cardigans.
Their future endeavors include spreading as far as they can possibly can. After stealing the scene in Nevada, the ultimate goal is to grow and progress. They want to progress by doing pop up shops in popular areas, joining local fashion shows and interviewing with blogs. Currently the brand is rising in Los Angeles and Piggue is continuing building her brand with the concepts of loyalty, humble and hungry.
“The ultimate tip is to make sure your team is trustworthy and loyal,” Piggue said.
“Also continue to never give up and achieve everything you put your mind to.
Quitting your job, packing your bags and moving to California may seem like the most impossible thing someone can do however, Londyn Douglas accomplished that and more in a short amount of time. Her fashion career started as a daring thrifter to a styling guru, and now she is making her mark as the curator for “The Club.”
She Got It from Her Mama
Washington D.C offered politics, while Londyn Douglas craved fashion. For years in D.C, she expressed her fashion sense through crazy clothes and vintage finds unlike no other. She was even voted the most creative in high school. Inspired by her mother’s fashion sense, Douglas developed a love for fashion at a young age and carried on her creativity.
“Seeing my mom pick an outfit in the morning for work was one of my favorite things,” Douglas said.
“I was in awe with her look and her closet.”
Waking up every morning, Douglas would watch her mom pick her look: from her outfits to her heels. This was her first encounter with fashion.
“I knew when I grew up that I wanted to be just like my mom,” Douglas said.
“I wanted to have the whole package: a woman who acts, talks and looks well.”
Not only did she develop her sense, but she also gained the eye for fashion from her mother. Though they do not have the same style, they both shared the love of shopping and finding great fashion deals.One day while thrifting in high school, she found these amazing pair of blue suede shoes. At that moment she had a fashion epiphany.
“I realized that I had a good eye for finding pieces and that I wanted to help others find great vintage pieces as well,” Douglas said.
California, Here She Comes
Having a stable job as a member service manager for a non-profit organization, did not sit well for Douglas. As she continued heightening her career, her love for fashion was always calling her back. A visit to a friend in California was the first step to determining her change of career. After falling in love with the weather and fashion, she took the next step by saving money, quitting her job and moving to California with her family’s full support.
Her first positions in California were as a buyer for Ross and working for an accounting firm. Carrying a degree in business and marketing, Douglas was tired of working with numbers and logistics. Surrounded by clothes she could not play with, made her unsatisfied once again. Then she took a chance with a Los Angeles fashion business class at the School of Style. Monica Rose, the Kardashian's stylist, was the guest speaker for the introduction to styling class. In the class, she learned about E-commerce, styling for certain occasions and marketing.
After taking only one class she bonded with the founders of the class, Luke Story and Lauren Messiah, who came from her hometown. They offered her a styling internship and position as a customer service and graduate relations manager. Her first styling job was Randy Jackson’s musical talent; she fell in love with the position and wanted to go to the next level.
“From then I continued juggling both the internship and my job,” Douglas said.
“However, I decided I wanted to go full force in this job. So I saved all my rent money for the year and quit my accounting job.”
The more involved she became in the styling school, the more opportunities came her way. While editing job postings on the school’s graduate relation page, she spotted a Vogue internship to work with Leslie Lessin as her styling intern. Her first gig was with legendary photographer Michael Comte, who has shot for Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair and more. She applied for the position and got accepted to more and more styling roles after impressing Lesson.
“From then on I started getting clients from her and others who worked with me,” Douglas said.
“Once you’re in the industry and do a great job, word spreads.”
Styling was fun but, bills had to be paid. Douglas combined her knowledge of business, fashion and vintage finds to create “The Club” an online vintage boutique with the motto “cool vintage for cool babes.”
From the start, Douglas knew she wanted to have her own vintage boutique like the Melrose and Silver Lake markets. With her knowledge of business, she created her own online boutique with a message of women empowerment and black girl magic.
“I designed my collection for all cool girls doing cool things to wear,” Douglas said.
“I also slid in a message within my line. Both of the models are black women doing something awesome like a ballerina and a writer.”
A brand with layers, “The Club” is not your typical Los Angeles brand. Offering vintage pieces is a really hard find in Los Angeles, unless you are a daring thrifter. Douglas utilized her fashion super powers to help girls find their vintage love at first sight. Her first collection, the Carry-Out, was also created with a sprinkle of Douglas’ heritage and homage to carryout meals.
“I am a quarter Japanese and I wanted to create a line that touched on my Japanese roots,” Douglas said.
“I created the line and realized they all had an Asian vibe: from the Mandarin collars to the silky Chinese shirts. From then I named every item after a notable Asian dish like the Mumbo Sauce.
A dose of California and Spring Rolls are the best options on the menu for Douglas herself. Appreciating her custom vintage pieces, Douglas also utilized her statement pieces within her styling jobs. Her friends and family are once again supportive of her decision to take her fashion career to the next level.
“What I love most about her collection is the gems she finds and the history behind each,” Bryce Barnes, friend and designer said.
“Also, the styling of each piece, she knows how to enhance the modernity and make it now rather than dated.”
When asked for how far she wanted “The Club” to go, Douglas responded with, “As far as it can go; I have not limit at all.” With a spring revamping coming up, Douglas’ boutique will continue to spread throughout the Los Angeles area.
How to Start Your Own Brand?
Though a new brand, The Club is already turning heads with Douglas’ growing success as a freelance stylist in Los Angeles. Utilizing her many skills and education in fashion, Douglas is the epitome of a thriving businesswomen.
“Starting your own business takes major balls and drive,” Rachel Carraway, Douglas’ friend said. “She's got both.”
Here, Douglas shares her top three tips for launching a fashion brand.
1) Make a plan. The plan is the most important because you cannot just jump into it, Douglas said. “You need to know your audience, designs and if you don’t have a plan you’ll lose site on why you started in the first place.”
2) Talk to the people around you, who know you. Coming into the fashion industry, it is easy to lose yourself against the competition. Luckily the field is forever growing with people just like you trying to make their mark. Douglass learned that being surrounded by people as creative as her can help her greatly in this industry. “They can give you resources and feedback for your work”, Douglas said.
3) Find your resources through the internet. The biggest myth of fashion is the amount you have to put out in order to receive the fashion benefits. Douglas was able to achieve her dreams through networking and researching the many opportunities in Los Angeles.
“You do not need to spend all of your money for school”, Douglas said. “By looking up the styling class on the internet, I was able to make my mark and take the next level in the fashion industry.”
4) Starting and Going for it! “Talk is cheap, unless you go for it”, Douglas said. Craving her desire to work in the fashion industry, Douglas dropped everything and took the next step. Instead of sitting around contemplating over what ifs, she made her dream come true.