Q&A | On The Runway with Womens' Fashion Designer, Shay Oliver
In today's retail world, names like Saint Laurent, Chanel, Gucci and many others have been long time staples for fashion enthusiasts and influencers all over the world. Among these brands are creatives cut from a different cloth, dwelling in this underworld of design and existing on the fringes of the culture working passionately to become the worlds next leading brand. Among those are people like Shay Oliver, a womens' fashion designer who recently broke ground by debuting her stunning spring/summer collection during Vancouver Fashion Week. We had a chance to sit down with Shay to learn more of her story as an emerging entrepreneur from Flint, Michigan. Welcome to The GOODS.
TG: Hi Shay, thanks for joining us on The GOODS! Let's talk a little bit about where you are from and how your surroundings have influenced your overall approach to fashion and design? What are some of the highlights on your journey so far?
SO: "Hey y’all! I currently reside in Flint, Michigan where I was born and raised. I have early childhood memories of wanting to be fashionable, simply because I attended catholic school and was required to wear a uniform. The only way I could express my fashion sense was through the shoes that I wore. As a designer coming from a small city, a few of my highlights consist of my most recent venture, presenting my Spring/Summer 2020 collection at Vancouver Fashion Week, seeing my designs on the red carpet at BET’s Annual Black Girls Rock Award show, as well as seeing my designs on Tamara Mowry-Housley of The Real Talk Show."
Shay Oliver debuts her S/S 2020 collection during Vancouver Fashion Week Runway Show. Photo by Moda Eventos. Copyright 2019
TG: What led you to pursue this art form instead of others? Some may not understand the process of what it takes to make a garment. If you could, how would you describe it?
SO: "I’ve always had an interest in fashion. I grew up wanting to own a women’s clothing boutique. In 2010, I gave it a go when I hosted my first pop up shop selling dresses and accessories under “The Dress House”. I hosted a few parties, and made a couple hundred dollars. However, my goal was to sell exclusive pieces. After learning rather quickly buying wholesale, at least what I had access to, was not the route to go if I wanted unique pieces to sell. I decided to begin designing my own. That was the only way I’d have access to garments that were one of a kind Shay Oliver designs."
Shay Oliver gearing up for Vancouver Runway Show
TG: You are an Entrepreneur, Wife and Mother of 4 children. We think that is amazing! Some may wonder how you balance work and home. How has family life played a role in developing your entrepreneurial muscle?
SO: "Geesh that’s ALOT of children, lol. I have a very strong support system. My mother, most days is right there in the trenches sewing with me. Often times, we tag team the youngest two, Chelyn and Isaiah II (Zo). While I’m sewing, she’s changing diapers and warming bottles and vice versa. My husband is also a great help, when he can tear away from demands required to operate in his position. I will say that I’m extremely blessed to have family and friends that support my vision and are willing to lend a hand when available. I believe being a wife and mother has instilled in me some of the grit and grind needed to be an entrepreneur. Raising a family of four young children can be taxing at times, but some days when you feel you have very little left to give, you have to dig deep to find that push to do that one last thing. Whether it be washing dishes, changing a diaper, helping with homework, or finishing the hem on a client’s garment."
The Oliver Children
TG: Who or what are some of your main influences in design culture? What brands did you wear growing up?
SO: "My FAVORITE DESIGNER is Ralph Lauren! His pieces are always classic, elegant, and timeless. A classic polo will never go out of style, neither will a blazer, or simple lbd (little black dress). Growing up, while not in school uniform or basketball clothes, you could catch me in Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica...all of the classic 90’s brands that are making a comeback today."
Mari "Little Miss Flint" Copeny poses in a custom Shay Oliver piece during BET's Black Girls Rock Event.
TG: Who is one person you’d love to collaborate/sit down and talk fashion with?
SO: "Hmmmmm, Stephen Burrows. I’d like to soak up everything I could from him. He’s an African American designer who’s known best for his use of bright bold colors and color blocking."
Photos by Moda Eventos Copyright 2019
TG: What’s next for The Shay Oliver brand? What do you think this means for your hometown?
SO: "I’m currently in the process of completing custom orders I have through the remainder of the year, and prepping for prom and wedding season. The sky is the limit, God has led me this far, I’m going to continue to allow him to steer me in the direction he’d like me to go! I’m extremely thankful for all the shares and congratulatory remarks I’ve viewed on social media. It’s such a good feeling to know that your hometown is rooting for you and your success, I’m truly grateful."
TG: Any last remarks? Where can readers find Shay Oliver products and connect with you on social media?
SO: "I’d like to thank you for reaching out and allowing me to share my story. Hopefully, I can inspire someone to follow their dream. Congrats to you as well on what you’re doing with GoodBoy, I believe everyone in my house owns at least one hoodie or tee shirt! You can currently view my pieces on my social media pages. IG: ShayOliver.Flint; Facebook: Shay Oliver. My website will officially launch November 1, 2019 at www.ShayOliver.com.
TG: Thanks for joining us and we wish you the best on your journey!
You can view the Vancouver Fashion Week show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tCjyFwavEo&t=94s
Leave a comment & make sure to subscribe to The GOODS to receive exclusive content about stories of culture makers from across the world.