Fashion Designer Staci Sherri Takes NYFW With Global Showcase and Tribal Travel Company
By Rachel George
From the gritty streets of Baltimore to NYC, the world’s fashion capital, fashion designer Staci Sherri is turning heads for her celebrity clientele and working with the biggest brands in the industry. This NYFW, she takes her brand global with a Morroco-inspired showcase.
“‘Life is a Party'” is about encouraging people to, no matter what, keep dancing. I want people to be inspired, whether it’s your season or even if you’re at a downfall, you have to keep dancing and remember that life is a party,” she says
Sherri has had an incredible amount of “alley oops” in her career. From being handpicked for an internship at Rocawear and creating directing at House of Dereon, to now featuring her new collection at NYFW for the fourth time. Actress Zendaya, R&B singer-songwriter Elle Varner, TV personality Keisha Chante, and famed rapper Lil Kim and Draya Michelle have graced runways and covers of magazines while wearing Staci Sherri’s signature pieces.
Staci’s latest collection features vibrant colors, intricate details, and carefully tailored lines inspired by her recent retreat in Morocco alongside 16 other powerful women.
Since she was a child accompanying her mom and sister to the beauty salon, every step Sherri has taken has groomed her for where she is today. She was the girl who loved fashion and everyone around her knew it. She was fascinated by women beautifying themselves with a new hairdo, in a new ensemble. By high school, she was self-taught, modeling, sewing and designing for local fashion shows. Paying respect to the fashion industry, Sherri attended college at the International Academy of Design and Technology of Florida in 2003, under the guidance of Department Chair, Nancy McGee, never afraid to ask, “How can I help?”
“Honestly, the best thing I ever did was take that leap of faith and go to college because you get contacts, the polishing and you get to learn real industry things,” she said. She picked to volunteer for NYFW in college. She recalled working with NC Connect, Naomi Campbell’s modeling agency, and being in the same room as Russell Simmons and Kimora Lee. “Seeing Naomi Campbell walk down the runway show, which was the highlight of life my life and being in the same tent, breathing the same air as all these models and it was amazing.”
Needing the hustle and bustle of NYC, Sherri applied and accepted internships at Beckerman, a fashion start-up in Canada at the time, and Jay-Z’s Rocawear clothing brand. A close friend wore a pair of ruffled pants she designed and caught the attention of industry powerhouse Michelle Carter, Jay-Z’s older sister, earning her a meeting in 2007. She recalled nervously sitting in Michelle’s office, as she flipped through her portfolio. Michelle made one phone call before Sherri looked up to a crowded room full of people ready to take a look at her portfolio as well.
“She told me I was special and talented and I was proud,” Sherri said. “You always have that feeling of wondering if you’re good enough and then moments like this happen and you accept that you are [good enough].”
Sherri quickly found an apartment and moved to NYC in April 2007, to start as an intern at Rocawear–helping anywhere she was needed, in showrooms and in the sales department, everywhere. She was even asked to design for their men’s line, despite her specialty in women’s clothing. One day while she was organizing a closet, she felt a rush of powerful mogul energy from behind her–it was Jay-Z in-person, in the office for a briefing on their latest collection. She said he complimented the looks she pulled for him.
Although she enjoyed her time there, living in the city, unpaid was no longer an option fo her. With help from Michelle, her unpaid intern turned into a paid freelance position, while she was still in college. “I think she saw something in me, I was hard-working, I wasn’t being sidetracked by the celebrity component.”
But her real break in the industry came after a recommendation from a friend in the sales department directly to the creative director at House of Dereon, the ready-to-wear fashion line created by Beyonce and Tina Knowles. Like many college students or young entrepreneurs, Sherri was told she needed to graduate and obtain at least 5 years of experience. Every day after, she would call and send numerous emails stating, ‘I am your solution I am who you’re looking for.” It was a dream come true to work as an Assistant Designer for a brand she already admired, fresh out of college.
She had a rather welcoming introduction to the company straight from the Queen Bee herself. She remembers, her uttering the words, “Hi my name is Beyonce Knowles, Welcome to the Company.” Sherri said she complimented her cat hoodie, hence her “Kitty Kat“ single in 2009.
“I was supposed to be in fashion, its not something I was just trying to like jump into,” she said. “It’s literally my life and all these moments have been layers and puzzle pieces of where I’m continuing to go.”
10% of the proceeds from her clothing will go toward the Staci Sherri Foundation foundation to support black women across the US and by providing women with work opportunities in Africa. Unhappy with the skin products in the US, Sherri traveled back to the motherland for organic, grade A shea butter. Sherri also enjoys inspiring creativity and art to women and young girls in inner-city communities through motivational speakings in Baltimore, Detroit and Atlanta, and other cities.
“With everything going on in the world, we really need sisterhood and there’s always been a disconnect of women supporting other women,” she said. “ At one point, we weren’t able to celebrate each other the way we celebrate each other now, creating various avenues and spaces.”
Staci Sherri hopes to create more of those spaces, bridging the gap between African Americans in the US and Africans across the globe. The showcase will also be the official launch of Tribal Travel Club, providing exclusive and adventurous trips for tourists to Africa and many other countries. Referring to the benefits of exchanging cultural traditions to learn and better understand their ancestral connections to Africa. ” I want women to understand that they need the American woman as much as we need African woman and we need to swap resources and information as far as like a woman.”
Staci Sherri is the change we all want and need to see, making a difference in the lives of women all over the globe, through the realms of fashion and community.