I had the chance of meeting Nailah (a fashion blogger and creative marketer living in Detroit) in NYFW this year and have followed her through social media ever since. I watched closely as she turned her hustle into a real work of art. Merely months after NYFW, Nailah kicked life in the ass by making a bold move to leave her life in Detroit behind to pursue a career in fashion by working for Leota, a feminine dress line created by Sarah Carson. So I had a chance to catch up with this power house and here’s what she said.
So, Nailah: tell me about yourself in three sentences.
I’m Nailah from Detroit and currently reside in New York. I like to sum up my work as creative marketing and fashion blogging of course. I’ve been fortunate enough to not only discover what it is I’m truly passionate about, but be granted with an opportunity to pursue that dream!
You just recently moved to NY. What advice would you give other women who are looking to move to pursue their dreams?
Do you have even the slightest idea of what it is you want to do with your life? All right, go for it. Start taking the steps right now toward accomplishing that goal or dream because when it comes down to it, even if it turns out to be something you don’t want to pursue after all, at least you can say you tried.
Think of it like being at a wine tasting to pick out your favorite wine for your wedding. In order to know which wine is best suitable for your big day (or in this case, your ultimate dream in life) you’ve got to rule out the not so great wines to find the winner. It’s a step toward having the wedding of the season. At least in your eyes, haha.
I’ve worked in a multitude of industries from politics to construction, in an effort to discover what it is I truly love to do. and I learned something from all of them. Things that I’ve been able to apply at my job working in fashion today. Personally, and it’s going to be different for everyone, and that’s ok; for me, it was all about finding something I truly enjoyed doing and once I discovered what that was, working relentlessly to make that dream a reality. Often times, it takes a LOT of sacrifice, but don’t feel guilty for making them. When you’re happy at the end of it, that will make up for all of the sacrificing required to reach your dreams. Those who truly support you will understand what you have to do and they will stick by you through every up and every down.
There’s so much more I can say about this, but I’ll leave you with this; go for it, right now.
How are you adapting to the fashion industry in NY and how different is it from other cities?
Honestly, I’ve surprised myself by how I’ve maintained so far here in NY. I’m not going to sugar coat things with you guys. It’s been one of the roughest times in my life. I’m essentially starting fresh. Paying my dues so-to-speak just like so many other people who also dream of working in the fashion industry, and that’s just the thought process that has helped me to adapt. Knowing my place.
Yes, I have experience in Marketing, I have experience with fashion via blogging, but I’ve never been apart of this world head-on. I understood that going into this and I was willing and ready to start over again and make my way up in the industry. I was blessed to have been initially presented with an opportunity where I have my hands in all aspects of building a fashion brand from inception to completion. It’s been difficult for sure, but New York is a place that really shows you what you’re capable of if you allow it to. I experience a different kind of energy here compared to being in Detroit. It’s that kind of energy to where even when you’re just exhausted to the bone, you still can somehow find the energy to keep pushing forward. Because the grind here from everyone is just so visible. It’s a contagious sort of energy. On the opposite end of that, I also experience a different type of exhaustion. The kind you feel in your bones.
It’s certainly a city like no other.
What’s your hope for women 10 years from now and what sort of impact would you like to have for our generation?
My biggest hope for women 1, 2, 5, 10 or 50 years from now is that they believe in themselves. Give themselves a chance to really make that difference, to fully love that person, to relentlessly pursue that dream.
This may be unconventional advice, but I also hope that women embrace that self doubt, embrace the dreadful need to beat yourself up, embrace the shame and guilt that you feel because it’s natural, as a human to feel these things. It’s how you decide to react to those feelings that either turns you into a strong force of a woman or beats you to a self-loathing pulp. The point here is that the power really lies in your hands. You’re much more powerful than you give yourself credit for.
People say the fashion industry is cut-throat. What are some tips you can give to other aspiring fashionistas looking to make their mark without getting stepped on.
First things first, EVERY industry is cut-throat in some way shape or form. At least that’s what I believe. The biggest tip I can provide here is to understand that the people you’re working for are human as well. Often times, in fashion, you’re going to be working for someone who built a brand from the ground up. It is their livelihood they’re entrusting you with when they provide you with an opportunity to work for them. Learn to appreciate that and understand the amount of pressure they are under to maintain that livelihood. Understand that most of them have been in your shoes before. They’ve been through that struggle. Don’t take it personally, just do your best work. Don’t be afraid to know your limits and address them openly. You’re much more valuable when you can be honest with yourself about what you can handle verses trying to do it ALL, becoming overwhelmed and falling behind. If you need help, ask for it. Don’t be afraid. Communicate honestly and openly from the beginning and be yourself. Honestly, everything else will fall into place.
Cliché, really.. But what inspires you?
I’m the oldest of five kids. My siblings look up to me and inspire me to continue to be the best I can be. People with genuine passion for something, inspire me. People that struggle constantly, but push through and work hard without ever complaining inspire me. People whose primary worry in their day is when their next meal will be inspire me and motivate me.
Yes, I’ve struggled most of my life, but the fact that I even have the opportunity to not only dream about moving to New York to pursue a career in fashion, but to have enough access to make that dream a reality.
There are a lot of people in the world who only have their dreams and nothing else. That inspires me.
What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?
Hmm. This is a good one. A lot of the advice I’ve received in my life often times didn’t pertain to fashion, but resonated with me pursing my dreams of working in the industry. One piece of advice that always stays with me is to just do the work and the rest will follow. It couldn’t be more true. Consistently put in the work, trying your best not to complain about it or dread it, but just doing it will yield more results than you ever knew possible. You’re your own worst enemy and only you ultimately have the power to stop you.
Lastly, tell us how you plan to stay a kick-ass #girlboss until the end of time?
Haha, my plan for staying kick-ass is to keep kicking ass. Keep working hard and pursuing true, genuine happiness in every aspect of my life. There’s no greater foundation than one that begins with true happiness.