Name: Ericka Mays
Title/Position: Owner/Founder, Ericka Mays & Associates
DT: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? And some highlights in your career? Please name drop (laughs).
EM: My professional background is in fashion. I've worked in retail for [many] stores including, Barneys, New York; and Neiman Marcus; as a production manager for designers including, Cynthia Rowley and Norma Kamali; and, have had my own collections: Bleu Ceil, a contemporary clothing line; Ericka Mays New York, a plus-size clothing collection; and, Lux Cover, a cashmere travel accessory collection. My plus-size collection was carried by stores including Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Ave.
At this point, I've retired my brands. And, [I] am consulting up and coming fashion designers with their brands in business and product development, and production.
DT: Why is it important to have diversity in the beauty and fashion industries?
EM: Diversity is a very loaded word. In my working life, there is plenty of diversity. For example, the Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and other factories and vendors, who contribute to making the clothes.
Unfortunately, diversity is not where it counts – in the people who make the decisions.
A lot of bad choices were made. For example, the Gucci sweater that looked like "blackface," or Adidas' all-white shoe released for Black History Month. Granted, these are European companies; but, if you're selling to an American market, do your homework!
DT: Have you seen shifts in the last decade?
EM: "For every one step forward," Virgil Abloh as head of LV men's, "there are also two steps back," as my comments stated above.
DT: In a perfect world, what would be an ideal evolution in the industries of beauty and fashion?
EM: To me, the ideal fashion evolution would be to get as many people "woke" as possible, especially the people at the top. For someone at Gucci to think, "it's okay to have a "blackface" sweater," is NOT okay.
As well, I think the idea of brands giving the consumer more "self" choices, is already rising in the markets, with companies like Altress, M Tailor, Stitch Fix, and I Tailor.
DT: Do you realize that your presence in the industry, inspires many people around the world?
EM: I do realize my presence in the industry inspires people. When I'm introduced at any industry event, I see that my presence is looked at, by the youth and newbies to fashion, as something to aspire to. I will never take that for granted.
DT: What advice would you give your younger self?
EM: I have two: first, would be, "to have a goal and do at least one thing every day towards achieving the said goal"; and second, "to not ever take anything personal in this business. There are plenty of egos in the fashion business, so don't let their "stuff" be yours."
DT: Are you living your purpose?
EM: I'm trying to live my purpose every day.
DT: Finish this sentence, "I am grateful for…"
EM: "…Life and the people in my life."