We had the good fortune of connecting with Deanna Rice and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deanna, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I’ve actually always been a risk taker. I tend to do things that scare or intimidate me, though some risks take a bit longer for me to muster up the courage to tackle. The ability to push yourself past your fears leads to victory, even if it appears that the risk may not have paid off in that moment or in that season.
Recently, I had an incredible opportunity to go to L.A. and style a shoot for Playboy, and I was so excited yet afraid to go. I had never been to California, or even the West Coast for that matter, so the idea of travelling to a new city seemed like a fun and scary adventure, which it absolutely was! I was afraid to go because I had never left my children for that long to travel for work, and I thought about my safety and the “what ifs” if something were to happen to me out there. After very emotional goodbyes to my babies, I went and had the best time with the best people! I learned so much about myself on that trip, and I’m so happy I accepted the risks, and it paid off!
There are so many other examples of risks that I have taken on my journey of entrepreneurship, and some risks have paid off, and others have failed miserably. You have to take the good with the bad and learn the lesson you are supposed to take from that experience. The most difficult part about risk-taking is not allowing the “failures” to define who you are. Also, don’t allow other people to define you by your “failed” moments. They cannot judge your journey any more than you can judge theirs. Stay resilient and learn how to move differently next time. Every risks you take will lead you closer to where you need to be, so stay encouraged!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It’s funny that only recently I realized that I had always loved styling since childhood. I was really into fashion magazines, I would draw fashion sketches and create different looks from my clothes for my Barbies. I even dressed up my sister and cousin and I took photos with the disposable cameras from back in the day. The first time I remember seeing a stylist was on America’s Next Top Model. Law Roach was the first stylist I saw on t.v. and I was obsessed with that show! I watched every single season religiously. I think one thing that always stood out to me in every season were the makeovers the models went through each cycle. I noticed how their performance changed based on whether or not they loved or hated their new looks. That’s how I approach styling my clients. I dress them for who they believe they are inside. It’s almost like I’m helping them reveal their inner superhero or alter ego. It brings me so much joy watching the transformation from before to after they are fully dressed up with hair and makeup. My clients come alive in front of that camera, and that’s what helps me stand out. I feed off of my client’s energy. I look at their Instagram profiles to get an idea of who they are and I enhance that.
Many of the amazing opportunities I’ve had have honestly been through networking. You have to go out, meet people, put yourself out there. I was able to style a video shoot for the legendary Anthony Hamilton because one of my best friends was the co-director and writer. The creative industry is a lot about who you know.
Of course I’ve encountered many setbacks and made mistakes on set that were embarrassing, but now I am more knowledgeable about what to do and what not to do, what to bring, how to be better prepared, etc. Some lessons I’ve learned along the way is that I do in fact need help! I tend to like to have control over anything that represents myself or my brand, but in the long run, it has lead to costly mistakes. I am still learning to become comfortable with allowing others to help and assist me, and it has been worth it. I also learned that I need to be overly prepared! Even if I know the theme of a shoot, I still make it a point to bring items that may be out of the realm of the theme because you just never know!
I want the world to know that it’s okay to take your time and give yourself grace. My journey is really just beginning. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t pretend to. Elva Mae is evolving and changing, just like me and I’m getting more comfortable with that. I believe I have gained a tribe of people and followers who accept these changes and give me so much grace and patience to just be myself.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Atlanta has so many amazing places to visit for entertainment, food, art, and so much more! If I were to host a weekend long trip with my girlfriends, I would start with brunch at Negril in Midtown, an upscale Black owned Caribbean restaurant that has amazing curry goat and mimosas. Then we would head over to the High Museum to look at some art while our food settles. Then we would head over to Politan Row at Colony Square for an early dinner at their amazing food hall, followed by drinks at Jojo’s Beloved Cocktail Lounge which is a really cool retro speakeasy located in the square. The next day we would have brunch at The Select in Sandy Springs which is the perfect instagramable backdrop for the ladies, with amazing food and drinks. Then we would head over to Little Five Points for a candle making class at Bear and Honey Candle Co., another popular Black owned company (also a previous client of mine!) to make our own candles accompanied by some wine. You can’t go to Little Five and not take a pic with the Outkast mural behind the shop! Then we would explore the cool shops around there and have dinner at Little 5 Corner Tavern and eat on the rooftop while we people watch, because if you’re from Atlanta, you know that’s where the eccentric people are! We would end the night with drinks and dancing at Rock Steady, another popular Caribbean restaurant/lounge in the city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people that have played a crucial role in my journey! First, my family and friends. I am so appreciative of the love and support my tribe has provided for me along the way. From watching my kids, to helping me setup for events, offering encouraging words when I want to give up, modeling, and just creating an environment of positive and loving vibes so I can refuel my mental and spiritual tank as needed. One of the most important people in my circle is my grandmother, Elva Mae, or “Honey” as my family calls her. She has and will always be the source of inspiration for my life. The way she loves unconditionally truly impacts everyone she meets. She’s someone whose spirit and light you carry with you after only one encounter. I strive to learn how to love others the way she does, because well you know, humanity makes it extremely difficult sometimes. My best friend Ashley Booker has also played a crucial role in holding me up when I just don’t have the fight in me. We have been self-proclaimed sisters since we were fourteen and fifteen years old, and we have never left each other’s side since. Without the countless laughs, crying sessions, and hard truths, I don’t know where I would be honestly. I am also so fortunate to have other women and men in my life who love and support me as well. I am beyond blessed to know so many amazing and talented people!
I also have to shoutout my mentors and Celebrity Stylists, Ryan Christopher and Shatora Adrell. I met Ryan on set with the renowned photographer Derek Blanks and (speaking of taking risks) I asked him if I could shadow him and he agreed! He took me under his wing and showed me so many different aspects of styling as a full-time career. I am forever grateful for the knowledge he imparted to me. I met Shatora through a styling competition I won on TikTok with Glamhive and we just had this genuine connection from our first conversation. She was one of the mentors the winners could choose to have an hour long session with, and I chose her because she was a dope Black stylist and I respected her status as a stylist to the stars out in Los Angeles. We connected so much that she agreed to meet with me when I flew out to L.A. to style for Playboy and I am still being mentored by her currently. I respect that she’s not a gatekeeper of the stylist industry. She believes in helping other Black creatives who are coming up after her and sharing her wisdom and experiences to help others grow. I’m so blessed to have been mentored by some of the best stylists in the industry!
Sabo Media, Sebastian Salinas, Made You Look Photo & Film, Nadia Peri, Llauryn Hendrix, Amanda Wright, Cherry Gong, Elisha Cole.