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Designing BLACK: Celebrating Black History in Fashion

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

"I am not a quitter. I will fight until I drop. It is just a matter of having some faith in the fact that as long as you are able to draw breath in the universe, you have a chance."

Cicely Tyson aka Mama CiCi

America has experienced some of its greatest but also some of its most challenging moments this past year. Issues our country has faced since its declaration of independence seemed to breach the dams that held troubled waters in a controlled place as protests and riots ensued despite stay at home orders across the nation. Regardless of the ongoing obstacles presented throughout 2020, many achievements have been made and many businesses rose to the challenge. The business world, in particular, was hit and nearly 31% of small businesses declared themselves non-operational amid the COVID-19 shutdowns. Meanwhile, a large 52% of personal businesses declared themselves non-operational with the majority (55%) of these businesses were led by women.

Elections made a record setting move forward resulting in our first-ever female Black & Asian American vice president, Kamala Harris. The outfit collection chosen by the new vice president was made by African American designers Sergio Hudson and Kerby Jean-Raymond. The ensemble worn by our new vice president on inauguration day was designed by Sergio who has also famously dressed the previous first lady, Michelle Obama. In fact the outfits were nearly identical!

In recent years Black women have been claiming their stake in the business world. In fashion specifically we’ve seen household names like Rihanna crossover from singer to fashion icon. Her first project was an impressive collaboration with Armani where she designed t-shirts, denim and underwear. Rihanna later on became the first black spokesperson for Dior in 2015. To think this was only five years ago! A clear indication of how underrepresented black people have been in the world of fashion and business.

As we all know, the current struggle to be present in the Market while not being there on the ground was and is difficult during a year like 2020. Many businesses . Yet some brands steered their direction towards investing further in their digital marketing approaches during last year’s pandemic. Specifically, fashion brands who usually rely on promoting their new line of products through runway shows and on ground campaigns where fashion icons are present and appearances of wearing different brands are what highlights the event. Nowadays the case is quite different.

We researched about different fashion brands who have been growing lately & wanted to share one brand in particular that has been making the most out of the pandemic & turning blocked doors into opportunities through marketing!

Learning from other brands’ failures and successes is what helps us refine our strategy when it comes to applying it to our own way of doing business.

Designer and millennial entrepreneur, Briana Shanee Wilson of MATTE Brand pivoted, persevered, and finally prevailed through the challenges of starting her own business six years ago straight into a pandemic that hit many small businesses very hard. Not only was she able to use every challenge as a stepping stone but she also surpassed the projections she set out to reach by the end of the year, closing out her 2020 stronger than ever before.

Briana is an inspiration through her continuous representation of black girls across America. MATTE Brand has been worn by celebrities in hip hop and pop culture throughout the years. The list reaches to names such as Megan Thee Stallion, Teyana Taylor, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Melly, Princess Nokia and Mulatto just to name a few. Matte has done collaborations with local designers such as Grayscale along with rapper and actor YG.

Briana started Matte Brand with the mindset of never wanting to turn in a resume, never signing up to having a boss. Like the majority of millennial entrepreneurs, she wanted to own something that is hers and set out to make sure that would happen with all the resources that she had and would have. Many of the greatest people we’ve come to know through the news after their breakthroughs have mentioned their “leap of faith” moment. Briana’s leap of faith manifested in the moment during her last semester of college when she dropped out and decided that she never wanted to work for anyone ever again and since then she has never looked back.

After dabbling with ideas very similar to the now-popular OnlyFans app, a fashion brand became her avenue on the path to being a successful entrepreneur. Matte Brand ‘s designs are now coveted throughout the world with nearly every collection selling out, sometimes within hours after their first drop.

In a recent interview, also found on her new discussion channel on Soundcloud called éenahsanairb, Briana goes into detail about her mindset in approaching setbacks such as our country’s recent pandemic crisis while running her business. Simply stated; “I watch my actions to make sure that I’m never afraid of it”. She goes on to explain how keeping a positive attitude while facing each and every setback was key in the learning process the pandemic showed itself to be for her personally...

“Right before COVID hit, I was like pushing myself to have this financially free attitude…. I