De’Andria Evans doesn’t just make clothes, she makes wearable art. She’s the woman behind the unforgettable fashions worn by TILA Studios founder Tiffany LaTrice at our kickoff, EmpowerHer Brunch and, not to mention, photographed in the print edition of the New York Times in. The Nashville, TN native became a TILA member several months ago not knowing where it would lead, but falling in love with the powerful black woman energy in the space. I talked to De'Andria last December about her journey to TILA, how we champion the divine feminine for creatives, and all the wonderful ways she has invested in herself and her business Love, D.Jenee’.
How did you get into fashion design?
My mom was really academic focus but she let us do creative things on the side, as well. So with dance, I came into fashion in a weird way. My dance teacher would sketch the costumes that we would wear for our recitals. And she would have the parents get together and figure out how we would make that come to life. And I was very intrigued by that. I was more excited about that then dancing. Eventually my mom saw that I was interested in that so she started letting me help her with the costumes. These costumes were a big deal. You could rip parts of the costume away and you had a whole other costume. And they always had a meaning. They always had a purpose other than just looking cute. They had a message to go along whatever the song that she wanted us to dance to. My sister and I would be in dance competitions and we would always win best costume and best performance. I feel like it kind of pushed me into how I design now. I design things based on the whole environment that I’m surrounded by. Music has a lot to do with it. And when it comes to anything that has to do with black women’s situations is what I focus on because it’s very near and dear to me.
“God wants me to pursue Him in my art, in the creative aspects and on a more deeply spiritual level than on a religious level.”
What has this year taught you?
I’ve come to this good resting place. This year has really taught me how to rest in that creative environment. I read my word everyday. I listen to all types of music like neo-soul, jazz, hip hop gospel, rnb. I listen to all of it. What I like about music, reading and all types of art is that You get to see and kind of feel other people’s perspective. So in my creative environment I have all those things going. I’m reading here, listening to music there. And I’m kind of interpreting how I feel through everybody else’s perspective, as well. That all kind of comes together to give me my perspective on how I want to aim my collection. I focus on collections because I have a very broad view. I’ll think about the end result before I think about the details. And I think that has a lot to do with my dance background and production background. I want it to get a certain message across first and then I’ll scale back. And I also had to learn in this year that I have to give myself more time on the details in order for my vision to come out the way that I want it to.
“This year has taught me how to rest in that creative environment. And I also had to learn this year that I have to give myself more time on the details in order for my vision to come out the way that I want it to.”
What has the process been like since graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) a year and half ago?
This year my focus was about networking. I essentially just brought the pieces that I finished in my senior collection to multiple shows. The first show was RAW Artist. They do a show in several different cities around the United States. That was a different experience. Basically, I was just showing the stuff that I already had. All the while, I was working on two other collections throughout the year, as well, and then also launching my website. That was my biggest thing. I got Love, D. Jenee’, LLC this year in January and then I started heavy handedly going hard for my website so that when people ask questions, they can just refer to my website and see everything organized. That was this year. But what I realized about this year is that I slowed down. In college we had to rush everything. Our building was open 24 hours so I would always be at school. I never got a break to really get into my prayer mode, studying and listening to music. I got to a point where I was only trying to finish and get it to deadline. It stifled me and it burnt me out. I did keep drawing here and there. And I kept coming up with new ideas here and there.
It takes a lot of money, focus, energy to create fitting, working pieces and then you also have to have a whole artistic direction on top of that. For me to do what I really want to do, I had to tell myself to slow down.
How did you meet Tiffany and how did that relationship form culminating in her wearing your pieces for the Art Basel Campaign?
TILA Studios had the BAUCE Event at the end of March. I went to that event because like I said, I really wanted to start networking harder this year. I don’t know how I got that email. I always think things come by divine appointment. I got this email from BAUCE and I signed up for the event on a whim. Like, I was at work at Center for Puppetry Arts. I went all the way out to East Point (it’s maybe a 20 minute drive from my house). And the energy in the room with all the women, all the other black creatives. And everybody wanted to support each other, everybody wanted to learn about each other and network. I’ve been to other networking events and I felt like that was an amazing feeling that I got at TILA Studios. And I was like, ‘This is great. How can I be apart of it?’
And at that time I met Sierra, the Community Manager. She was looking through my stuff and she was like, “oh, this is cool.” I think she had got Tiffany’s attention and Tiffany was looking at my stuff and was like, “I want to get a piece from you.” And when she said that, I was like, ‘Oh, she’s so nice. She’s just trying to give me an ego boost.’ Because people tell me that all the time but they never - I’ll even follow-up sometimes - but they never actually commission me for a piece. And I didn’t think anything would come of it. Because people get busy and she was in the process of building her studio. After that, I would come to the studio and do my stuff for my website. I would talk to Tiffany and Sierra. And I would have conversations with other ladies, as well. All of it has always been so helpful to my growth: to hear about other women who are striving towards being independent, full-time artists, to bounce ideas off of them, and to know that other people are working too and you’re not missing out on anything.
Later, Tiffany invited me on as a vendor for the Artist Market at OneMusicfest. And I thought that was really nice because I’m slow fashion. I don’t make things that are readily accessible besides the earrings (even those are made to order). Then, she was like, “we going to Miami.” I thought, that would be amazing but I don’t know how I would fit into that because I’m a fashion designer.
She was actually helping me with my application to another fellowship. She was really personable. Like, I felt like I had a personal relationship with her and she barely knew me. And that’s another thing I like about TILA Studios, I feel like I’m amongst sisters. I can just come in and I don’t have to put on a show or a fake smile. I don’t have to be something I’m not. I can just be open. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I became a member with TILA Studios. It just feels like home and it’s a comfortable environment for you to work and get work done.
When she asked me to make pieces, it was right before they told me that I didn’t get accepted to go to Miami. It was barely bitter and very sweet. And I thought, you know what, this is even better. Because I get to make outfits for the person over TILA Studios and that is a big deal. It’s crazy how all these things work together. Not only did I get to be sponsored by her in that way. She was helping me to also be apart of Art Basel.
By seeing the pictures and all the things y’all did there, It just brought so much joy to my heart. I feel like I’m there with y’all in a way. I didn’t even think about newspapers or articles, more far of a reach than Miami. But all the newspapers just put the cherry on top. I’m so overwhelmed with joy that I don’t know what to do with it. It just makes me excited to go harder. I know that’s her overall purpose for TILA Studios. But I don’t know if she knew how much it was going to affect my life specifically. I’m just really grateful for the team at TILA, Tiffany, all the women, all the artists that contribute everyday and go hard. It motivates us all to see other people doing the work.
We couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the year than sharing this story that truly speaks to why TILA exists: bringing talented black women in the arts to a place where they can find honest supporters, motivators, and sisters. And also playing a part in furthering their careers, because we want black women to go so far and win. At TILA, we will definitely put our girls on!! So, thank you De’Andria for sharing your special gifts. Give her flowers y’all. And remember, you can always join us on this journey through membership. We are here for you and TILA will always go with you.