If left up to the small or large screen, your favorite glossy or newspaper, or even big budget advertising campaigns, you wouldn’t know an Afro-Latina if she tapped you on the shoulder. But we are out there, and we’re letting our voice be heard. Ain’t I Latina?’s Everyday Chica series highlights millennial Latinas that are blazing a trail in their respective industries, leading by example for future generations of Latinas. This week, we’re featuring fashion designer Brittny Wood. As the daughter of well-known designer Guy Wood, the Puerto Rican, Belizean and Honduran mamá naturally fell into fashion. From working alongside her father to starting her own women’s wear brand, Valencia Atelier, alongside fellow Latina, Vanessa Posso, Wood shares her fashion industry insights and how she balances motherhood and career.
What inspired you to get into fashion and design?
It’s something that’s always been in my life. My dad makes clothes and he’s been making clothes for about 20 years now, like custom clothing, so it’s always been apart of my life. I don’t remember when I actually started designing, but it had to be when I was like six or seven. When I was really young, I used to draw clothes. I used to take socks and cut them and try to make outfits for my Barbies.
I would say my dad would be the one that inspired me. As I got older, I realized I’m kinda good at this. It was easy for me because my dad made clothes. If there was like a party, or anything like that going on, I was like, ‘You know what, I want to wear this,’ and he would make me the outfits and everybody would say, ‘This is really nice, Britt.’ I would have to say my dad. He’s the one that inspired me.
As a women’s wear designer, you work with your family through Harlem Haberdashery. But you have your own line, Valencia Atelier. How do you balance designing for more than one design line and style?
With Valencia Atelier it’s my baby. Me and my partner’s baby. We share a very similar taste in clothing, so for that I pretty much design what I think is flattering for my body and what I think is flattering for a lot of other women’s bodies. I like plain and simple things with a little detail. I like nice fabrics and simple silhouettes; whereas when it comes to Harlem Haberdashery, it’s a different kind of feel, it’s a different customer. With Harlem Haberdashery I kind of play off the men’s thing. That’s how I keep it separate. It’s not very similar, so it doesn’t really cause any issues.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing, or a piece in a collection, that you’ve designed? Why is it so special?
My favorite piece right now would have to be a dress that I recently designed. I call it the Masako dress. It’s a cream dress and it’s a deep cut dress… I was looking at a lot of Japanese samurais, the robes and the geisha’s and the things they wear. I like the architecture of the clothes, so I used that in this dress. If you look at it, it kind of looks like a tuxedo, but then it kind of looks like it might be a kimono kind of deal. That’s my favorite piece right now.
I have a favorite silhouette. I like a skater style where it’ll flair out from the waist because I feel like for my shape that’s the most flattering thing for me. I make a lot of stuff like that for myself, which is totally different from the Masako dress. I can’t wear that one. I design a lot of things I can’t wear and I’m like, ‘Damn.’
You’ve had several well-known people wear Valencia Atelier. Po Johnson of La La’s Full Court Life, recording artist Teyana Taylor, and Basketball Wives star Draya have all worn your designs. How does that make you feel when you see someone who’s in the spotlight wearing your clothes?
It’s always great when someone supports you and wants to wear your clothes. I still get excited!
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