Sass. Confidence. Determination. Faith. Creativity.
Shari Radford, creator and designer of GLAMSEVEN, was able to do what many people fear: live their dream. At age 11 she realized that she wanted to be in the fashion industry, and made a promise to herself that one day it would happen. Despite all of life’s setbacks and pitfalls, Radford was able to bounce back. She has created a brand that has the power to give women, of all shapes and sizes, confidence in themselves. Since creating her brand she has gained momentum, and peaked celebrity interest.
Read on to see what she had to say:
How was GLAMSEVEN born, and what was the meaning behind the name?
Ever since I was a kid, at 11 years old, I actually told my mom, “I want to deliver babies.” But my mom, being as honest as she is, said, “Shari your grades are not quite good enough,” but she said, “You are very creative.” At that time, I had taken a trip to New York to see my aunt. She took me to some different fashion shows, and I decided at 11 that I wanted to be a fashion designer.
When I turned 15 I wrote it down. I talked to my aunt about it. I’m like, “I really want to design clothes and have my own boutique.” My aunt actually still has the letter that I wrote it down on. When I graduated from high school I applied to The National Institute of Fashion in Albany, New York. But I decided to stay here locally and go to school because I was afraid. I didn’t know if I would succeed or not, and I stayed because my high school sweetheart was here. During that time of me going to school, I took a fashion merchandising and fashion design course. I ended up having to drop out my junior year because I got pregnant with my twins. At that time I had to just put it all to the side. [I said to myself] I’m just going to work a 9-5. I have responsibilities. I’m a mother now. It was something that just got pushed back to the shelf.
I got married when I was 28 and then I had my last daughter. In that time of me being married my husband just woke up one day and said he didn’t want to be married anymore. And I was like, “Oh wow!” I just didn’t understand like, [to my ex-husband] why don’t you want to be married to me anymore. And so, I just began to look at myself, and I noticed that I hadn’t been taking care of myself like I used to. I wasn’t doing all the things that made me happy. I’m a Christian, and during that time I just kind of got real quiet during our separation. I wasn’t talking to anybody. God began to speak to me. He told me, “You need to start working on the things that you said you wanted to do as a kid,” and I was like I don’t have time. I’m a full time mother. I got a full time job. I work at Chrysler. I’m working 10, 12 hours a day. I just don’t have that type of time to be committing to a business, or a dream because I felt like my dreams were over. It’s about my children now.
I began to come up with some things. I said okay, fine I’m going to do this. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I’m just going to go for it and do it [laughs]. And so, I began to write down names of different things that inspired me. At that time of me writing stuff down God said, “A women is supposed to be glamorous. She’s supposed to be pretty. She’s supposed to be fabulous. She’s supposed to be awesome.” So he gave me the word, ‘Glamorous.’ And seven is one of my favorite numbers because it means completion. I began to look up on it, and I had seen that there was a scripture in the Bible about the number seven, and that it was also God’s favorite number because it is completion. I put the two together: GLAMSEVEN, because that’s what I wanted women to feel. I wanted women to feel like they were loved. I wanted them to feel like they were pretty. I wanted them to feel like they were glamorous and awesome when they came and shopped with me, and in our clothes because those are things, when I came up, that I wasn’t feeling about myself.
In that time I began to think if I want someone to think and feel these things about me, I have to first start showing it to myself. I have to first self-love, and I began to do that. That’s where my name developed. It was from my own personal situation that I was dealing with, and the fact that I was neglecting myself.
When it comes down to making the clothes, and creating the looks, what is your creative process?
I stick to what I know I want women to look like. I want my stuff to look glamorous. I would call my brand ‘edgy-chic.’ I love colors, I like different fabrics, I love different materials, I like working with different types of textures, and fabrics. When you look at my brand, you’ll say, “That’s different.” It’s not your regular t-shirt. Anybody can do a t-shirt, but I take the time to put thought into it. I say, “What can I do to glam this up?” When I get something I’ll say, ‘How can I just take this and make it fabulous? How can I take this and embody those things that I want women to feel, and to express through the items I’m making.” That would be my process.
Do you think that your clothes have the power to evoke a message? If so, what do you think women are trying to express in themselves when they wear it?
That whatever they put on makes them feel confident. That is basically my message that I want to give to women. I want women to know that you can do anything. When I started my company I was really at a bad place in my life. I was going through a separation. I had three kids, but I just continued to push. I want that to be expressed through my brand and my clothing. Anything that you have a thought— even if you just have faith or a belief—it can happen. That’s what pretty much happened to me.
I was playing around with a shirt and I said, “I really want to give this shirt to Amber Rose.” So, it was already a thought. I began to make it. She was here in my city, so I tried to attend a function that she was at, but she ended up coming way past the time that I was able to stay. So, on a fluke I was like, “I’m just going to try to email these people and see if I get a hit back.” I just wanted to take a shot and see what would happen. I emailed one of her people on her team and I said, “Amber was here in my city. I made a shirt for her that I wanted to give to her, and that I thought kind of expressed Amber.” They emailed me back. They sent me the address of where to send it to.
Three months after I sent it to her my sister called me and was like, “Oh my God,” and I’m like, “What’s the problem?” She was like, “I’m on the blogs and you wont believe what I see.” I said, “What do you see?” She said, “Amber Rose is wearing your shirt.” I was just like, “Whaaat?” [Laughs]. So I got on Google and I saw it. She was on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with my shirt on, and people were asking her about it. At that time I knew I wanted to fully believe in my dream, my brand, and the things that I create.
Why did you want to get Amber Rose to wear one of your shirts?
Because she is a free spirit. I’m a free spirit myself. Her whole message about—to live in your truth. Oftentimes people are judged because they live in their truth, and I live in my truth. Because I live in my truth, I am judged for that. People thought I was crazy because I walked off my job. I left a $30 per hour job to do this. I was at work and I was just like I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m about to follow my dreams.
I walked off that line and told my supervisor that I’m following my dreams. The lady said, “Baby, are you okay?” And I said, “Yes I’m fine.” [Laughs]. She said, “Don’t do this,” and I said that this is about me.
I have to live in my truth. I don’t feel that I would be truthful, truth in myself or truth in my brand, if I did not follow what I thought was right. I knew then that I had to go. I had to follow my own truth. I had to live in my truth. Me doing that [day job] was not my truth. It was not something that I enjoyed. That was one of things that inspired me about her. If she feels it, she does it. In that moment I felt it, so I did it and I haven’t looked back [laughs].
Would you say that was the proudest moment for you so far?
I would say that [quitting my job] was one of my proudest moments because I made good money at my job. This is my health care, my 401K, my retirement savings. All that was wrapped up in that [day job]. I decided to take it and live in my truth and put it on me, and stand behind my brand, and my own company, and know that I’m talented enough to create things that I love, and to give it to the world. I feel like if I can dedicate 10 or 12 hours to somebody else I know I can dedicate 10 or 12 hours to myself.
You mentioned your faith, but is there anything else that inspires you?
What inspired me most is just seeing other people not afraid to take chances. There are women out here that are not afraid to take chances, and just really live and do what they want to do. That inspires me to drive more, and now my children come to me and they say, “Ma, we’re so proud of you.” That’s when I really knew that what I was doing what right. This is something that I teach to my kids. I owe that to them. So those are things that I look at when I go out; other women who have the same hustle, and drive as me. It’s one thing to have a dream, but to actually go after it takes a whole different level of courage. I like to link up with people that are not afraid to have courage and have faith, and to believe that eventually it’s going to happen for you.
Is that what you think makes GLAMSEVEN unique?
Definitely. I tell everybody, anybody can make a t-shirt or an item. It’s just can you put your own spin and your own specialness behind it? I think the things that I embody show through my clothing. I have people tell me, ”I put on your item and I just feel like I was that person when I walked through.” When I’m creating different things for people I give it my 100% because I want that woman to feel like, hey I’m that deal when I come through. I try to express that through my clothing.
You’re also a Detroit-based brand. What kind of impact does that have on the overall image and style of the clothes?
It’s very savage out here. You have to have touch skin [laughs]. Literally. You have to have tough skin to make it out here in the city. You can’t be weak, You’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to have some backbone, or the people in my city will eat you up like a savage [laughs]. That made me tough because of the different things that I had to go through.
I grew up in a single household. My mother raised two girls on her own. That’s a lot that goes on here in my city: women raising their kids themselves. I just want women to know that they can make it. There is nothing that you can’t do. I try to express that to people all the time. It starts with a thought, and then you just have to put in in the work behind the thought, and it will happen. That’s what I do.
I was looking at some of my first shirts that I did. They were really awful. I was like; wow people must really love me to buy these shirts because I would not buy them. But because of my passion for it, they got better and better. For someone like Amber Rose to wear a shirt, like she doesn’t know me, but she wore it. Same thing with Trina. I sent it to her. The next day, she wore it to a performance. I think that my qualities, and the things that I stand for definitely show in my work, and when people wear it they’re going to feel those same things.
I even took up a sewing class just to further my craft. Just to take it to another level. We have a lot of people in the city that make shirts or have their own boutiques. It’s kind of the norm around here. People look at it like it’s a quick fix to make some money, but I’m doing it for a whole other reason. Yes, the money is great that comes along with it, but I really want to be able to work with other people who may have great ideas. We can collab if they’re artistic. I want to be able to help people and inspire them. If you have a dream, you can take it anywhere. Anything is possible.
You’ve come really far from that moment that you left your job and decided to do this. In your wildest dreams, what do you see as GLAMSEVEN’s future?
I see my brand becoming a household name. I’m going to be around. This will be something that I pass on to my children. I feel like the message that I have to carry to women—the clothes is just a way for me to be able to carry the message. I want it to turn into a movement of women doing empowering things and just going for it. Just having faith, believing in God, and trusting that He’s going to have your back. You have to have total faith to do something so totally absurd like I did. I had people calling me like, “This lady had a nervous breakdown.” I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. I was in my right mind when I walked out [laughs]. I want to be able to keep sharing my story that I went through a lot of hurt and pain, and that it’s just going to develop into something so beautiful. A lot of times that’s what God does. He takes bad situations, and makes them great situations to share with other people to be an example.
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