Honoree: Nareasha Willis
The Grind: Designer, founder of AVNU
Find Her: @avnuofficial
If you’ve seen the phrase “Ghetto Until proven fashionable,” thank Nareasha Willis, owner and designer of AVNU had. Four years ago she started using the phrase in her work as a creative director, taking parts of her childhood and inserting it into her shoots. From there she developed a loungewear line with similar phrases, most notably, “Black Before It Was Fashionable”, and “You Can’t Have The Culture Without The Struggle” which made others see her as somewhat of a fashion activist.
Her clothes were selling out, her brand was growing, and her message was being heard loud and clear. As her notoriety grew, so did her inbox with requests for speaking engagements and interviews. She identifies her biggest career shifting moment when Refinery 29 used her quote a the 29 Rooms activation, “A Long Line TO Queendom”. In an act that can be seen as ironic to some, Vogue, one of the most prominent fashion outlets (that also featured her twice) previously sued her for the very thing they lauded her for. Going up against one of the world’s most recognizable brands chiseled the designer’s focus on business, and success. And it’s working.
Fashion, or maybe the culture, has refused to let Nareasha go. Her voice, her designs, and her energy are all needed. With life quite literally settling into place, Nareasha is using all that she’s absorbed as a business-woman to grow her whole self while simultaneously re-birthing her clothing line, AVNU. A constant reminder that nurturing your whole self, is important.
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