We had the good fortune of connecting with Siri Shareefa Carrion and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Siri Shareefa, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I always knew I wanted to be a designer. Growing up I never knew there was a name for the thing I liked to do. Which was draping fabric over me or my dolls and creating dresses. I was probably 7 or 8 years old when I began doing this. When I turned 10 or 11 my mom taught me how to sew. She and my grandmother saw how I would take pieces of fabric and stitch them together with needle and thread. One day my mom took out her old singer sewing machine. Sat me down and taught me how to place my hand on the machine and sew pieces of fabric together. I made simple things, pillows, cloths for my dolls While I was sewing, I would have so many ideas swirling in my head and I had to get it out somehow. As time went on I become more aware of how I loved working with my hands. I would watch the Emmy’s, Golden Globe awards and dream up new styles of dresses and dream of my dresses walking on the runway. My mom had a freind that worked at UC Davis. I believe she was over the textile devlopment depart. She made some time to speak to me about Fashion Design and Textile. I wasnt into it. I knew I liked to sew and creating clothes was my thing. One day my mom received her Essence magazine in the mail. There was an article about this African American Fashion Designer in Paris, Patrick Kelly. I read his story and saw his clothes with all these wonderful buttons. That is when I knew I wanted a career as a Fashion Designer
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I always knew I wanted to be a Fashion Designer. My design aesthetic is business casual/corporate wear. As Muslim Women, we have a modest dress style. We do not wear revealing clothing nor short skirts. I realized earlier in my career that as a Muslim Women, the fashion industry did not cater to us and our lifestyle. Fast forward 20 years, modest fashion not only caters to Muslim women but to all women who adhere to a modest dress code. When I created my brand, Siri2Siri. I was not sure what niche I would fit into. Everyone was doing the evening dresses, prom dresses, wedding dresses etc. One day I was invited to a casual all womens event. I did not have a dress to wear and I really did not want to go out and buy a dress. I had this beautiful purple geometric fabric in my fabric stash and an idea in my head I had been toying around with. I created a boat neck dolman sleeve maxi dress. Just a basic everyday dress and I paired it with my grey cardigan. I wore it and received great compliments on it. Later that month, I was invited to a fashion show in DC. I debued my boat neck dress and turtle neck dress all with my cardigans. I sold out of all my dresses and cardigans. That is when I knew what I was as a designer and my niche market. I create modest wear clothing for women in corporate work environment. Not only were Muslim women buying my dresses and cardigans. Non Muslim women as well loved the idea and concept. Now that I knew who I was as a designer, I had other challenges to overcome. Inventory, packaging, manufacturing, and creating some type of budget to handle all these demands. It was not easy, I was working full time (8hr shifts) and then coming home to cook for my family, take a nap, wake back up around 9pm and sew until about 1- 2am. I quickly understood I needed to create an efficient process. I made it a point to cut my inventory first, that would take 2-3 days. Then I would begin sewing each garment. It usually took me a week or two to complete 12dozen or more garments. When your head is down and your working. You have these blinders on and you cannot see anything else except for what is infront of you. Your process becomes your norm. I posted a picture of my clothing rack full of clothes. I had several friends ask me, “where did you get your dresses made?” I tell them I made them. I dont have a budget to hire outside sources to sew my garments. So, I have to put in the sweat and make my garments. My customers always compliment me on the work quality. The lessons I have learned on my entrepreneurial path is this. You cannot do everything by yourself. You have to find a team, a friend or an intern, who is willing to put in the sweat with you. Don’t ever allow money to keep you from achieving your dreams or goals. If you are working full time, begin now putting money away for your business
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?
My friend comes to visit. We are definitely going to all the tourist spots, Stone Mountain, MLK Center, Georgia Aquarium, High Museum. Then a mad dash to Sapelo Island to visit the Geechee-Gullah residents, Savannah and tybee Island. I love a good arts and crafts fesitival. My favorit parts of town to hang out is Little Five Points, Ponce De Leon area. Honestly, I would be open to just exploring the city to see what new small boutiques or antique shops we could find.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Mother and Grandmother are definitely my main supporters. My Tia Maria encouraged me as a child. I have watched her whip out clothes for my cousin in a few hours. Jim McFarland “Gentlemen Jim” is my mentor. He is always there to answer my calls and give me guidance. I am always grateful that our paths crossed
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