What sparked your interest in fashion?
Fashion is very much about self-expression for me. I can't say it was as much a specific moment that catalyzed my interest as much as it was a resource and outlet that always existed within me. As a child, I was quite reserved yet didn't necessarily wish to "blend in" so style was my voice. This is where my 'speak sans speech' tagline was born. The ability to relay my mood and convictions blossomed into an incredible passion. So, I usually describe it as fashion getting into me as opposed to me getting into fashion.
How would you describe Syreeta C as a label?
I never pick out my outfit the evening before because I can't predict how I'll feel the next morning. My style is expressive of where the day's journey is taking me - internally & externally. I take influences from the world around me that I relate to. I, as well as those who know me, have struggled to label my style within a genre and generally find amusement in trying to do so. That's a success in my eyes since I'm not a fan of boxes and labels.
How would you describe your personal style?
Since I specialize in custom garment creation, each design is new and different. I'm constantly collaborating with clients and thus growing in my craft. I learn from the challenges of constructing a variety of garments as well as working with different personalities. My work is unique in that it's a product and a service. Both sides have improved since the beginning and will continue to evolve.
What has been the most memorable response to your work?
Clients seek me when they have trouble finding mass-produced items that represent them. Many have spent hordes of time searching racks only to be left disappointed. They have ideas and preferences that I'm able to bring to life. I've had clients cry when they try on the final product. I've had clients who don't want to take their garments off. I've had clients who I've built lasting relationships with. All of these responses reinforce the importance and love for my craft.
What are some of the challenges you have faced as a designer?
Timing, transition, and trust.
It's tough to discern a timeline for growth. When you're building from the ground up, there are a lot of unknowns. Of course, I wish to achieve success, but I understand that I need to build a solid foundation for it. There are a lot of small details that tangle with one another- from business regulations to streamlining the client-designer process to balancing personal and professional lifestyles. It's a lot to grasp. I also have to constantly remind myself to trust in this opportunity that I've been given and my role in the world. My journey is independent of others and faith is a driving force in it.
What are you most inspired by at this moment?
That may sound odd, but I'm in love with perseverance. I'm inspired by my clients who refuse to be limited to the trends and looks that manufacturers produce for them. I'm inspired by other artists and entrepreneurs who choose innovative thinking and creativity to propel progress instead of complacency. Currently, I'm especially inspired by those who are unwavering in their fight against racial injustice despite backlash. I'm very thoughtful about my unique role in this cause. All of this aids in reinforcing my purpose.
What's next for Syreeta C?
In the future, Syreeta C is looking forward to opening up a formal storefront and full-time venture. I am also committed to creating inclusive arts programming for youth in my community. This demographic has always held a special place in my heart and I've worked with them a great deal over the years. It's work that I find incredibly fulfilling. This type of philanthropy will bridge the gap between my professional and personal goals.
What advice would you give a new designer just starting out?
There will be wonderful moments and there will be exhaustion- find teaching points in all of them. There will be a lot of trial and error. Continue to learn and always remain humble. Accept the support of those around you and curate that group. This group is SO important. Saying 'no' is okay sometimes and helping others when you don't have a lot of resources yourself is also okay. Don't lose yourself or the pride in your work in the process.