Larry's Blog: Fierce, self-made, fashion matchmaker Brandice Daniel

Larry C. Mullins
January 31, 2019 - 9:08 am

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match!!! I got to meet the matchmaker to the city’s best and brightest fashion designers today here at WINS. Brandice Daniel (The one and only founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row popped in).

Oh what a breath of fresh air and tenacity! Her company was a fledgling, started out of a visit to a local fashion show where she witnessed some of the brightest names in fashion.

Brandice decided “This is great...I think we should do a show like this in Harlem”.

Only problem: there weren’t many black designers (if any) in the show she attended. The year was 2007, and she decided that it was time for change. Clearly, there must be black designers in this town—they’re just not getting a break.

So she created this platform for multi-cultural designers to showcase their designs and either sell or connect them with branding agents (to do ads and commercials that we see in publications like Vogue and Ebony, and on television shows like OWN and BET). It wasn’t easy; nobody knew who she was and she recalls trying to convince designers to let her take control over their lifelong projects.

Some designers told her “not ONLY no”… but…(well, you know). She told me she was puzzled, since she was trying to do something to help them show their work!

Undeterred, she scrounged up a few friends and volunteers and went for it anyway. The first show threatened to be a bust (she painted the floors of the runway and they hadn’t dried just minutes before showtime yikes!!).

A friend told her, “Girl just keep the doors closed… a line will form around the building, and people will think it’s a hot show that everybody’s trying to get in… causing more folks to come in out of curiosity. Voilla!!

Needless to say,  things changed after that first show, where now some 50 designers have been paired with the likes of TreSemme, Marriott, Target and so many others. The BIG came when Nike contacted HFR to look for a designer to help NBA superstar Lebron James develop a shoe line for women. She took 3 designers with her to the meet and greet, and they chose all three! And now the tables have turned: Brandice went from having to beat down doors…to now having many new young designers beat down her door, hoping to get inroads to a brand connection.

This interview was one of the most inspiring (and funny) visits we’ve had on this forum, listening to a young woman who saw a need and ran thru a brick wall to address it. And notice, I didn’t mention the glass ceiling…because Brandice never saw it. Truth be told, the glass ceiling probably saw her coming, and figured what the heck, I’ll just crack on my own. The sister is fierce --.