Some QT with Director of Design & Production, Vada Gray, on How She’s Bringing Sexy to Sustainable Fashion
The Grant BLVD brand was built upon pillars of some pretty strong fundamental values. Whether we’re igniting conversations about injustice in marginalized communities or sharing new and adoptable sustainable habits, trust & believe there is a greater purpose behind everything we do and produce. When our very own designer, Vada Gray, is creating, she’s not only extremely cognizant of these pillars, but also of you guys. Her guiding questions as she designs? Who is the Grant BLVD woman? What is she passionate about? What does her day look like?
Her main goal: to highlight every ounce of your power, all while keeping y’all fine af.
Cassie: Tell me, tell me, tell me! I mean, what inspired you to pursue a career in fashion?
Vada: My love for art and fashion, while I may not have known it at the time, all started with my mom and my aunt. When I was little, we were always together just making stuff from Christmas decorations and tye-dying. I even ended up making my own prom dress. But it wasn’t until I worked at the Franklin Institute that I saw fashion as a possible career path. On my down time, I’d use receipt paper to draw out a whole storyline of a woman using clothes, description of fabrics, and the different colors she wore. My friend came over and told me I should really do this for a living and I really didn’t think it was possible. But I did some research and talked to the right people and I ended up enrolling in the Art Institute of Philadelphia. That’s where I really started honing my craft, and I was hooked from then on.
Cassie: Wow. Well, how did you make a home for yourself within Grant BLVD?
Vada: Grant BLVD came at a time when I was falling out of love with fashion. I was doing a lot of work the way other people wanted me to do; I had very little creative freedom. I mean you’re always gonna fall out of love with your passions at times, but the trick is to remember why you started. Grant BLVD was my reminder. It was a refreshing and welcomed challenge for me, learning a new set of techniques that combines my prior knowledge of formal wear with street, and it’s keeping me in a constant state of education right along with our community. Before this, of course I knew of reusing materials and thrifting, but I didn't even fully understand that the term sustainability could even be applied to the fashion world.
Cassie: Yeah, we’re all def growing in our understanding of the state of the planet. I know I am. So, how do you want people to feel when they wear Grant BLVD clothing?
Vada: Well, I used to always be in the company of adults. I was everyone’s little therapist; everyone talked to me for some reason. So early on, I got an understanding of how multifaceted people are and how I could see so many of their personal qualities shine through the clothes they wore. For me, I know that the Grant BLVD woman cares about the social issues around her, but they don't necessarily define her holistically. I hope that I design the clothing that will be coveted by a beautiful variety of confident, working, free-spirited powerhouses out there. I’m most excited to see how our customers wear garments that inspire both themselves and the people they care about most.
Cassie: Yesssss! Ok, last question: what goals do you have for yourself as a designer and for the brand?
Vada: Through original patterns and organic colors, I want to prove that fashion can be woke AND sexy. I want Grant BLVD to be known for its message, its quality of fashion, and how we make people feel. Since I'm working with a more limited set of materials than what I was used to, I hope to be able to continue to find innovative ways to repurpose and produce stylish and on-trend pieces. As we all fight for the differences we want to see in the world, we will see progress and regression. And I know for sure that power that resides in the core and seams of the Grant BLVD woman, that’s forever. I just really hope our customers will know that, too.