Having her designs worn by Mila J, K. Michelle, Erica Mena, and more, Paige L’Jai Alexander has catapulted her career in couture from campus fashion shows to NOLA Fashion Week in, what seems to be, the blink of an eye. This millennial and self-made fashion maven has made quite the name for herself within the fashion industry. Creating customized looks for herself, this daring designer got her start by simply solving a personal problem. Eventually, this would blossom into a career in curating unique pieces that would be worn by some very notable people. L’Jai Amor, Alexander’s cutting edge couture line, has been acknowledged by some of the best of the best and she is just getting started.
I recently reached out to this doll of a designer and was able to gain insight on her journey to becoming a star in the fashion industry. This interview is filled with gems. As Alexander gave thorough and authentic responses, she went on to make mention of the benefits of chasing your dreams from your hometown and remaining grounded once you’ve gained a substantial amount of recognition. Paige honestly gave us her keys to success and a blueprint of how she has hustled within such an intimidating industry.
On behalf of myself and Urban Social TV, we want to wish Paige L’ Jai Alexander and the L’Jai Amor brand continued success. As mentioned, this is an insider that you don’t want to miss. Without any further delay, check out the interview below:
USTV: First, I would like to begin with an ice breaker question: If you could go back in time and introduce any article of clothing to the fashion world for the first time, what would it be and why?
LA: I would probably choose skorts. I am in love with having two looks in one for multiple wears and diversity. A lot of my newer (pieces simulate) a modern version of the skort in many different forms. I decided to take the concept and put my own twist on it.
USTV: If we could go back to your adolescence, what was a teenaged L’Jai Alexander be interested in? Did you know how much fashion would impact your future?
LA: Looking back on my teenage adolescence, I was interested in the arts and any form of expressing myself through art. When I wasn’t hanging with friends, trying to be grown, I spent my time drawing, painting, scrap-booking, and creating. I was very shy growing up, so my mom decided to put me in theater classes during the summer. (This) allowed me to open up to the performing arts. During my teenage years, I enjoyed shopping and cool clothes, but I never imagined myself to be pursuing fashion the way I am now. However, I did know that I always wanted to make a living expressing myself through art.
USTV: During undergrad, what strides had you made in the fashion world? -Did you gain any experience in fashion during that time?
LA: I have always been very creative and artsy, but Fashion Design actually started during my undergrad years. I was relatively small and could not fit any of my clothes in college. So, I started sewing by hand until I had a freak accident. (I) got a needle stuck in my thumb and had to have a cast on my right hand. Afterwards, I purchased a sewing machine and started experimenting. I broke into designing clothes when Christy, a close friend of mine that modeled, asked me to create an unconventional piece for our college’s fashion show. The piece was made of a huge trash bag, but the way it was made gave the illusion that it was a real dress. Ever since then, not having any experience, people started requesting that I create custom looks for them and I couldn’t resist!
USTV: I read that you started out creating pieces for your own personal collection, how did that spiral into your own brand?
LA: I used to make random things that came to mind, just for practice, and to test my limits. As time went on, I learned more and more about the way large brands showcased their work and wanted to try my hand at creating more organized seasonal collections. The notable time for branding myself would have to be when I did New Orleans Fashion Week. I decided on what I ultimately wanted my signature look to be and started to brand myself accordingly.
USTV: You mentioned of New Orleans, which is your hometown. Being a fellow Louisiana native, do you feel that where we live may hinder exposure in that field?
LA: New Orleans is actually becoming a breakthrough city for every aspect of The Arts especially fashion design and theater. I believe it makes the person unique to not be from the typical “fashion” cities. I honestly want to make a breakthrough while I am still in my city to show people that it is possible to build your own brand where you are. Also, with the power of social media nowadays, it allows you to network with all types of people from all over the world and get your name out there without ever leaving your door.
LA: I know that people say this often, but it is honestly something to live by. No matter what anyone says, follow your heart because your best work will ultimately exude from what you are passionate about and interests you. Never stop despite hard times. Everything is possible. There has been so many times, even recently, where I question if this is what I am meant to do, but it’s what I am passionate about. So, I obsess over continuously building. I believe success with persistence can only come from that.
USTV: You are now at the point where your work is being acknowledged and showcased, in major ways. Describe the feeling of seeing your work featured in magazines and worn by celebrities.
LA: The feeling is definitely overwhelming because there were times that I did not believe it was possible for me to reach out to people and even get a response. So, I started to feel as if people weren’t taking notice to my work or maybe there was something that I was lacking. However, something told me to keep going and doing what I love and perfecting my craft in the process. I felt that something would eventually come along. I kept the faith and God has continued to bless me and the brand more and more. I look back at where I have come from to now and I am so very proud of what I have accomplished.
USTV: How do you keep yourself from feeling like you have reached the pinnacle of success, after getting so much recognition? -How do you keep that hunger to produce more pieces and become more innovative?
LA: Most people use never being satisfied as a bad quality, but I use it as a motivator. Not being satisfied until my next goal is reached is how I keep pushing myself. I do not want to settle for anything in my life. I’m always striving for more and for better, until it’s time for the next goal.
USTV: In three words, how would you describe your personal style.
LA: Unpredictable. Eclectic. Bold.
USTV: My favorite pieces from your collection are your cutting-edge female power suits. What motivated you to revamp the traditional power suit?
LA: I’ve always been into vintage and I’ve developed a sense of personal style through eclectic pieces I purchased while working as a buyer at a vintage store. Then, I graduated and decided that I needed a bit more stability in my job and it was required that we dress in business suits. So, I started to shop for more polished looks, such as suits, but they were always so standard. So, my style went to a minimalistic look as a result. Nonetheless, I still kept my edgy vintage style outside of work. Then I realized the market lacked those really cool power suits, for places outside of the corporate world.
USTV: What is it about your brand that separates you from the bunch? What is your “extra frosting”, so to speak?
LA: My extra frosting is creating wow factors. I want my clothing to make bold statements. I always find ways to take it to the next level. I aspire to be different, but I sometimes feel I can be better. I think that is what makes me progress the way I do, which is why never being satisfied is a good thing, in my book.
USTV: Throughout the course of your blossoming career, has there ever been a time that you felt that you were in over your head?
LA: I actually have those moments often, especially being self taught! It seems as though when I get involved in a difficult project, I think to myself, “Am I meant to be doing this?” An instance where I felt overwhelmed was when I was doing a fashion show, years back, for Southern University in Baton Rouge. During a fitting, one of my pieces ripped during the show, and I had to find ways to improvise. Nonetheless, I closed the show and received a standing ovation. So, during those times, the ending is always rewarding.
USTV: What advice would you give to millennials that feel like breaking into the fashion world is beyond their reach?
LA: You can use me as a prime example, although I am still working towards the end goal. I’m just a simple girl from New Orleans, who taught herself all that she knows. I didn’t have a guide on how to do anything, but I learned along the way. I ultimately think that the clothes and the craft are what make people pay attention and want more. If you are good at your craft and you practice and work towards a way to differentiate, or distinguish, yourself from the others, you will definitely prosper.
USTV: What do you want L’Jai Amor, the brand, to be remembered for?
LA: I want my brand to be remembered for breaking through with innovative ideas in fashion.
USTV: What can we expect from L’Jai Amor brand in years to come?
LA: In years to come, I ultimately want to branch off into producing accessories, shoes and many other forms of women’s fashion. After becoming successful in the U.S., I would love to grow internationally, with storefronts all over the world. (That) would be the ideal goal.
Keep up with Paige L’Jai Alexander and her brand by following @ljaiamor on Instagram.
Interested in her pieces?
Shop exclusively at: http://www.ljaiamor.com/