What is the standard of beauty? Is it the girls who strut on the runway or the girls you see going to the mall? While there isn’t a universal standard, there are personal standards, so not everyone is going to agree on what is beautiful. But one thing we should all agree on is that no one should be pressured into seeing themselves as imperfect. Because there is no definition for imperfect. Everyone should strive to be independent from all of society’s judgement and stop validating one’s self worth by it. With this truth in mind, I recently had the pleasure of connecting with the Kenya & Kayla Watson sisters, the founder of Independence Clothing.
Independence Clothing provides contemporary attire for all the girls in the world who want to be liberated and free from the false images of what a women ‘should’ look like. I cannot be anymore happy to represent them on my blog because not only are they the founders of Independence Clothing, they are also girls just like you and me. Kenya & Kayla attend school full time and owns a retail business, which only shows how passionate they are about changing the views on beauty and providing clothes that help every women feel beautiful inside and out.
Since Independence Clothing is such a powerful and inspiring company, I knew the creators behind it had to be extremely interesting. And I also knew I wanted to share with you all the amazingness of Independence Clothing. Kenya & Kayla was kind enough to let me interview them. After reading their responses to my questions, I knew I was right about their amazingness.
Independence Clothing [dot] com Interview
With founders, Kenya & Kayla
What is your definition of a fashionista? Do you consider yourself one and when did you know?
We have a quote on the About Us page of our website that says,
“Place your value as a person above your size, shape, or weight. Your dress size is no more important than your shoe size.” –Julie Parker
There is no one single definition of a fashionista – it is a girl who confidently embraces her own style and body, yet knows she is more than the clothes she wears or how she looks.
We both consider ourselves fashionistas according to our own definition. Kayla gravitates towards more glamorous clothing (like the Sequin LBD), while Kenya has a more classic style (like the Transformer). However, we both value hard work and how we treat others more than the number on a scale, the brand on our shirt, or the size on our jeans.
Starting your own business can be hard; did your start come with challenges? What advice would you give to girls who want to start their own thing too?
Starting a business is definitely hard, but if you chose something you love to do, then you will enjoy the good and learn from the bad.
If you are thinking about starting a business, we think you should do your research (books, talking to people, etc.) and come up with something to set you apart. For us, we are not just selling clothes, but boosting self-esteem and positive body image. Reach out to other people and get the word out about your business.
However, realize you can’t prepare for everything, and sometimes you just have to jump in and learn along the way (like we are).
The most important thing – choose something you are passionate about and have a good and flexible attitude through everything!
How did Independence Clothing come to be? How was the name formed?
We had the idea one day while shopping with our aunt. We were just generally tired of shopping in huge stores with mass produced, low quality clothing. We were tired of wearing something everyone else had or seeing the same extremely thin mannequins and models (who don’t look like the majority of young women) in every store. Our aunt planted the seed of starting our own online store, and we decided to run with it.
The name Independence Clothing stresses our desire to break from society’s standard of beauty. We are all beautiful and different, and we should be embracing our individuality, not trying to look the same.
Can you tell us your fashion story?
For both of us it is different.
Kenya: I started out without much interest in fashion when I was younger; I was a tomboy. I got into fashion and finding my style when I became interested my freshman year of college, not because of pressure from others. I’ve never been into trends, I just follow what I like. Sometimes it coincides with what’s “in” at the moment, and sometimes it is something from years ago. I tend to like neutral and earthy colors (like Olive Fall) and classic items that never go out of style, as well as looser silhouettes and jumpsuits. Before I couldn’t stand dresses, but now I think they are super comfortable and you can easily make a put-together outfit, especially in the summer.
Kayla: I was definitely interested in fashion from a young age. I used to, and still do, make sketches and designs (which one day we will hopefully sell!) of clothes. I love sequins, sparkles, and anything with a little glitz. My favorite thing to do is to pair a riskier fashion item with something more toned down, like our Word Up leggings with a plain white shirt.
Where do you find your fashion inspiration? Who influences what you sell online?
We do look at important fashion designers and celebrities, but more importantly, we look at street fashion and what the people around us are wearing. When we look at the big designers, we try to translate their ideas into more practical clothing that can be worn by teenagers, college students, and young women. We get our clothes from New York, which is one of the fashion capitals of the world.
When buying our clothes, we look for two things – quality and versatility. We like clothing that lasts a long time, and can be dressed up or down for different occasions. For example, we made a Pinterest page on how to wear our Glam Skirt on different occasions, from class to your internship to a concert. The Transformer can be worn to the beach or to a formal dinner.
We hope to expand and add more clothing soon, so stay tuned! Also, we want our customers to help decide what we sell, so we are thinking of allowing our email subscribers to vote on future merchandise sometime in the future (when you buy an item and accept email marketing, you are put into this group).
Where do you find your models to represent your clothing line? Who are they?
We use real, everyday girls to wear our clothes. So far we have been sending around emails to our friends and asking them to be our models, and the response rate has been great. We didn’t want our models to look like they just stepped off the runway, because to be honest, most of those women have a similar body type that most of us do not have. We wanted diversity, with different body types and ethnicities. Instead of objectifying our models and saying “this is the only body that looks good in this outfit,” we want every girl to embrace her own body and style, without trying to conform to an unrealistic standard.
Essentially anyone can be our model, really! We encourage anyone and everyone who buys our clothes to send us a picture of themselves wearing at least one of our items so we can post it on our website and/or social media platforms. If you live in the Raleigh area of North Carolina, you can send us an email at email@example.com saying you are interested in modeling along with a full body picture (only so we can plan what sizes the models will wear before they arrive).
Why did you decide to start your business online and not on Etsy or Ebay? Do you believe the advancement of technology is a good thing or a bad thing for businesses?
We wanted Independence Clothing to have a unique voice and presence, which is why we decided to do a website from the get-go. However, we are thinking of concurrently opening an Ebay store in the near future.
We think the current technology is a great thing! Without it, we would not be able to start Independence Clothing and work together from two different states (North Carolina and New York). It makes everything more efficient. But like all good things, technology has to be managed carefully when it comes to the safety of our customers, especially when you are conducting business online. The difficult part is staying on top of all the changes! We had to become really familiar with all of the social media platforms and doing business online; there is still more to learn, but we really enjoy it.
While conducting your own business, do you find it challenging to balance your social, academic and personal life?
Of course it has its challenges, but we expected it to be difficult. We are both students – Kenya is a sophomore at Columbia University and Kayla is a senior in high school in the college application process. We both have at least 3 other extracurriculars, sports, clubs, and/or jobs, plus we are both committed Christians. And that does not even include relaxing and being with friends and family! We are thankful that we have so many people who support us, and we are able to integrate our business into our everyday things, like talking to our friends. It is also a blessing that we are sisters and get to work together; we get along and our strengths and weaknesses complement each other. We try to manage our time well and get things done, but we also know that sometimes there are things that are more important at the moment. This was something we wanted to do, so we were prepared for the challenges.
What do you believe will be the next trend for Spring 2014?
That’s always a tough one. It seems like fun, loose, and retro are in. So maybe some metallic, or as you know fashion always works in cycles and it appears the flapper silhouettes are coming back with a fun, new twist J Like we said above, we want our customers to also vote and tell us what trends they like to see!
Where can we find out more about your clothing line and you?
You can buy our clothes at www.independenceclo.com, but we really want to also engage with our audience on social media as well! For instance, if you send us a picture of yourself wearing one of our items and styling it to make it your own, we would like to post it on our social media feeds like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Our urls are below:
Instagram: www.instagram.com/IndependenceClothing (@IndependenceClothing)
Twitter: www.twitter.com/IndependenceClo (@IndependenceClo)
Independence Clothing line offers amazing styles and designs, it is a perfect place to shop online to get ready for the spring 2014 season. I personally love their ‘Tribal’ and find it perfect for spring 2014. Don’t forget to check out their website on www.independenceco.com to see all the amazing clothes they offer. I personally would like to thank Kenya & Kayla for sharing their amazing thoughts with me and for encouraging girls/ women to be independent and confident.
With Love, Victoria S.