Edge does not have to be profound or minimal. The balance of what makes a woman feel good must be represented in her clothes. When you’re expected to do it all, you must look good doing it.
After 22 years of retail experience and countless years of dressing New York’s trendsetters in her beloved boutique Pieces of Brooklyn, Latisha Daring, BK’s chief fashionista and stylist, has closed Pieces’ doors to design her own clothing line, Ashtyn.
Named after her daughter, Ashtyn, features timeless investment pieces any woman can wear winter, spring, summer or fall (plus sizes will available Fall 2011). Beginning a new career of designing after co-owning a boutique with her husband for more than 10 years, Daring continues to make good on her last name. She kicked off the New Year with a successful collection debut via a pop-up shop in her old home of Atlanta, and she promises Ashtyn is just getting started.
Daring, designer,wife and mother, took time from her busy schedule talk all things fabulous, including if Pieces will ever reopen, the complexities of marriage and business and how a trip to a candy shop with her daughter inspired her Spring 2011 collection.
What inspired you to create Ashtyn?
It’s really about all the women I’ve dressed for the past 10 years—all shapes, all sizes, all ethnic backgrounds. They are my muses; they are my inspiration, and I really feel like there should be, and there always will be specific pieces in the collection that speak to specific women. Even though my daughter definitely is my overall inspiration and why I do what I do, really the minds and the bodies of all women and all women that I’ve dressed for the last 10 years.
What should we expect from the Spring 2011 collection?
With spring, I didn’t want to take myself so seriously. I think that as women we have more fun and kind of let our hair down (in the spring). We’re out more, we’re more social. We take more risks just because, you know? My inspiration for the Spring 2011 line was really about letting the little girl in you come out to play, and that’s really the mantra.
The inspiration is really candy. When you think about your childhood, there are certain things that take your memory back. For me, it’s candy. From Now & Laters to Laffy Taffies, all of those things are embodied within the line. It’s bright, it’s vibrant, it’s colorful, and each piece is named after a favorite candy of mine as a child.
I had already started designing (the collection), but everything came full circle when I visited a candy store (Dewey’s Candy) in Brooklyn. Aesthetically, it was just beautiful. I go in, and I fall immediately in love. Back in the day, the detail on candy was so serious; there was nothing you could compare it to. The detail in the candy is the same detail is the same that I give each piece.
Will you bring pop-up Shops to additional cities?
I’ve been in retail for 22 years. I’ve always been subjected to a retail schedule. This is the first time that I actually have a sense of freedom as it relates to my work schedule, so I’m taking that time to really (a) sell the brand; and (b) be a full-time mom and wife, but also just to expand my market and be able to share what I have with other states.
I don’t want the collection to be just for New York women. We do plan to do at least three pop -up shops per season in different markets. Currently, we’re looking at doing California, Miami and we are going to go back to Atlanta in March.
“Nothing happens in life without fear–nothing. You have to be able to embrace the fear and walk through it anyway.”
You co-owned Pieces with your husband. Since closing, how has your work-relationship dynamic changed?
My husband has always been supportive. He knows I’m nuts, and that’s one of the reasons why he loves me. He’s an amazing man because he continues to support my vision and my dreams.
He’s always been a part of everything that happened at Pieces. He was the reason we started carrying men’s (apparel), the clients all loved him. He kind of took a step back because now that we’ve closed the store, he’s like, ‘If you want to do this designing thing full-time, I fully support you as always, but this is your thing now.’”
He continues to hold me down, and it’s a wonderful thing, but I will say that our marriage is actually stronger now that we don’t have the store. It’s hard to have a relationship and then a business relationship, and not co-mingle the two. That was our biggest challenge. Now, we can exhale because we don’t have the pressure of running our own business and being married. Now, we’re just married. We can start planning our life again. The dynamic has changed, but it’s actually really good.
Will Pieces of Brooklyn reopen?
Pieces will always be me. It was the foundation for what I’m blessed to do now. I’m very close to my clients that I’ve built through Pieces, and now they support Ashtyn. Will there ever be another Pieces store? Probably not, but I’m not going say indefinitely. You never know what God has in store for us. I’m just gonna say that it’s definitely in a special place in my heart.
What advice do you have for women who want to pursue their passions to make a living?
You have to be very clear about what your passion is, and you have to be very focused on it and willing to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. There’s a difference when you work a job and it’s not necessarily for you and you know it’s not for you. There’s this other thing you want to do, but you’re too afraid, so you get in your own way.
Nothing happens in life without fear–nothing. You have to be able to embrace the fear and walk through it anyway. You’re blessed to have a vision to see something so crystal clear. You have to have the conviction to follow through.
Style, to me, is your comfort zone but it’s your comfort zone, in that people take notice of you when you walk into a room for positive reason. Style has to come with a certain level of comfort and confidence and feeling good and looking good in what you’re wearing. That translates into every aspect of your life. Style is not just your clothing. Style is how you walk, how you talk, how you carry yourself, how you dress , how you wear it, how you treat others. That, to me, is really the epitome of style.
Look out for the Ashtyn Spring 2011 look book in early February, but for now, shop the Fall 2010 Collection online at www.ashtynonline.com. Keep up with Latisha’s latest events and information at piecesofbklyn.blogspot.com or http://www.twitter.com/ashtynllc