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Harlem's Fashion Row Founder Brandice Daniel Shares Advice for Young Black Designers

Photo: Courtesy of Brandice Daniel

Watch the full conversation between Brandice Daniel and Staff Writer Janelle Sessoms on The Fashionista Network.

Brandice Daniel always worked for, in her words, the “worst boss in the building.” Before she founded Harlem’s Fashion Row, she worked many jobs — from retail to apparel production to insurance sales — with not-great leadership, but that didn’t dull her shine. Instead, it sharpened her work ethic.

“That prepared me so much for when I started Harlem’s Fashion Row because all of them set the bar so high that it allowed me to be able to then go into HFR and work with brands and understand what people expected,” she told Janelle Sessoms live on The Fashionista Network. (Watch it here!)

Daniel’s vision for Harlem’s Fashion Row began with a simple idea: She wanted to put on a fashion show in Harlem. When she was researching designers, she discovered that designers of color made up less than 1% of those featured on the department store websites she scrolled through.

“Sometimes you’re searching for your purpose, and your purpose is at this intersection where [there is] something you’re really passionate about — for me it was fashion — but then also something that becomes a big problem for you, which, for me, the problem was that I couldn’t find these Black designers,” Daniel said. “And I really felt like that’s where my purpose grew out of this passion and this problem.”

Harlem’s Fashion Row has collaborated with fashion giants such as LVMH, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. But Daniel says the group’s first collaboration with Nike and LeBron James stands out as one of her proudest moments: Three Harlem’s Fashion Row Black female designers — Fe Noel, Undra Celeste and Kimberly Goldson — produced a sneaker for James’s first-ever women’s basketball footwear release back in 2018.

“It felt like a community moment,” she said of the collaboration. “It felt like, not [just] something happening with Harlem’s Fashion Row, but it felt like something that happened for all of us.”

Harlem’s Fashion Row is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year. Reflecting on all of her risks (or “cliff jumping,” as Daniel calls it) and industry-shifting inclusivity efforts, she shared three tips for young Black designers entering the industry: Have a unique selling proposition, study business and consider bringing on a business partner. She also left The Fashionista Network’s audience with one last piece of advice: “Go for the big dream.”

“So often we limit ourselves to what we think is possible,” she continued. “I don’t believe in limiting yourself. Go for the thing that actually seems impossible and give it all you’ve got. Time is short, and so much of what we achieve in this life is based on what we actually think we can have. So go for the big thing.”

This conversation was hosted on The Fashionista Network powered by interactive media platform Fireside, where viewers get the chance to participate and speak directly with industry figures. Learn more about The Fashionista Network here.

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