She’s 21 and absolutely fearless when it comes to dictating her dream. Louisiana-bred and now New York based designer, Deondra Morris, debuted her handbag line, the DeOndra Jereé Collection, earlier this month –October 4th – and is currently living her dream.
The Deondra Jereé fall/winter 2013 Collection is a luxury handbag line ranging from $128.00 to $628.00 and features six high-quality designs that fuse geometric shapes with deep wine and metallic colors giving off an edgy yet sophisticated aesthetic. It’s for the confident and chic woman that knows how and when to be fly and still familiar.
N’DIGO spoke with the businesswoman and designer to get the goods on her inaugural collection along with tips on how to go after your dream and dismiss the non-believers.
I have to congratulate you on your accomplishment and new line! What initially drew your attention to the fashion industry?
Thank You! I worked the Handbag Designer 101 Awards last year and I got to meet all the different handbag designers and I was just inspired to start my own handbag collection. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do – have my own brand. Every since I was younger that was always my biggest dream and I just went forward with it. And it’s been actually going good. I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback.
Being that your background and college degree is in graphic design, in what ways did that training further assist you when working to produce your handbag line?
I think the fashion part came natural but the graphic design really teaches you how to balance things. I just put that in with the fashion part and came out with something great.
The idea of “luxury” is very attractive. What fabrics and patterns do you use in order to assure a high quality and luxurious product?
Everything is real. I had to meet with different manufacturers. I had to go to different leather stores to see which leathers had the best quality. The lizard is genuine and real and I use Italian Leather.
Were you looking at other designers and trends to guide your design creativity or did you create from an open canvas of inspiration?
I did research the trends because, you know, you don’t want to be off! Most of the trends for the fall are metallic, brown, prints, patterns and the bold –edgy colors. So I did research and started designing from there. I wanted something that wouldn’t fade. Something that people could wear for a long time – next fall and the fall after that and it still looks good. I love the shoulder bag – the patches, the chain strap; I love everything about it.
The fashion industry is huge and extremely competitive – that’s absolutely no secret. Stepping onto the scene, at just 21, describe what the experience has been and the reactions you received when working to develop the Deondre Jeree Collection – especially at luxury prices.
The manufacturers thought that I had no background and no educational background. They thought I was just this young girl doing something but I had to tell them I have a graphic design degree, I know what I’m doing, and I love fashion.
I don’t think there are any other handbag designers that are 21-years-old. A lot of people were probably scared. But I was fearless and wanted to make my dream come true, so I was like, why not try it. I think it’s something the fashion world needs. [The manufacturers] were even shocked at how good everything turned out to be.
I stayed up all night and early mornings doing research. I was really confused at first but then I started piecing things together – like what would I wear and then it all just came together.
Coming from Louisiana and now living in New York, what are the differences in fashion? When you made your move, did you have to adjust your style or did it fit right in with New York?
My style fell right in line with New York because I’ve always had a different style and loved fashion. They would call me weird back at home because I was always dressed different from them. So it just fell right in when I came to New York. Louisiana, you have to kind of watch what you wear because everyone is so judgmental but in New York, it just feels so free.
Looking back at the process and the journey. What are some things you’ve learned about yourself?
I didn’t know that I was as fearless as I was. I thought that I was going to be really scared but it’s what I expected. I feel like my dream is a reality now.
I’ve learned that I can actually do the business and designing side. I thought I would only be able to do the designing. I thought the business was going to be hard but it’s going well. My older brother has a bachelor’s degree in business management so he’s a big help.
What are words of advice you share with aspiring entrepreneurs and visionaries?
You have to take rejection as motivation. I don’t think [manufacturers] believed in me at first but I was going to do it regardless. Be true to yourself. Be original. I always tell people to put God first and love what you do and always work hard.
Shop the DeOndra Jereé Collection at www.deondrajeree.com.
• The “Milan Tanadas” tote features a two-tone design and is the perfect everyday bag. (not pictured)
• Wear the “Sabre Tafa Mulon” shoulder bag for a night out on the town.
• The lightweight and portable “Brasee Juweyvos” backpack is great for weekend trips.
• Pair the “Dariona Lux Clutch” with a black blazer and jeans for an edgy meets glam look.
• Add some subtle elegance to an evening dress with the “Ann Tom Tue” coin purse.
• Look stylish at work or on the run with the “Rosan Mark Tue” satchel.