For Whitney Bryant, streetwear fashion is a way of life. Having been modeling since she was 16, Bryant started out as a publicist for a New Jersey-based entertainment firm. Her experience gave her a desire to work behind the scenes, so she left PR in 2010 and in Sept. 2013 she launched Sneakah Boutique, a streetwear e-commerce site that uses digital and social media to spread sneaker culture. Bryant, 25, lives in Harlem, and is now creative director and partner at Sneakah Boutique.
Why did you switch careers?
I’ve always had a love for fashion, that’s been my background for really my entire life. I’ve been modeling since I was 16 years old. I still model now, but being in fashion and being in modeling print and runway you get access to so much. Visually, you’re always in front of the camera, but my inquisitive side wanted to know what’s behind the scenes.
What made you want to launch a sneaker e-commerce site?
The idea kind of came to me browsing through some of the other sites that I normally shop from. I deal with a lot of the same vendors that I’ve dealt with when I was modeling at a younger age. E-commerce is something that I know a lot about, it’s something that I’ve studied forever. I think technology is fascinating and I think business is super fascinating.
What is unique about your site?
Social media allows us to interact directly with our audience. A lot of our consumers are from social media. We also allow our audience to tell us what they want, to tell us what they want to see, to show us what we like so that we’re constantly feeding them an all-around experience. We don’t just focus on how fashion is on the body, how it looks, but how it touches into an all-around culture. The music videos and things like that, the media component, it’s just a visual tool that connects the readers to what we do. It’s a way of life.
Why is sneaker culture so popular?
I think we cater to a culture that’s internationally diverse, meaning streetwear is not just something that you wear when you’re hanging out, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a culture that has captivated music, it has captivated T.V. The influence is so strong you can really push your target a little further.
What is currently your favorite sneaker?
I think my favorite sneaker that I have -- and I have a lot, I know I’m a model but I’m a ‘sneaker-head’ too -- I just bought myself a pair of pink Gourmet’s. Their sneaker, it’s a pink crocodile [and] what I like about it the most, it’s a light pink so it’s really girly, it’s a lightweight and it’s versatile. So I can wear it with shorts, a skirt, whatever. They’re really cute.
What does your job now entail?
On the operations side, because now I’m a creative director and a women’s buyer, I actually buy all of the clothing for Madame SB, which is the female side of Sneakah Boutique. And so with that I’m allowed to daily come in, see what new vendors are hot, what some of the trends are, who’s up-and-coming. I do a lot of that, I look to see what underground artist and fashion artists are developing. After that I will then order pieces for the upcoming season. So we’ve already ordered all of our fall stuff and now we’re looking at the spring 2015 collection.
What are you guys doing next?
We’re going to really beef up the visual content for SBTV -- which is our media portal -- a lot of exclusive interviews, a lot of behind the scenes photoshoots and viral video lookbooks. We’re working on some collaborations with some of our heavy hitters. We’re coming out with our own line of merchandise, some of our own bottoms and pants and accessory pieces like hats.
What was an unexpected challenge in your new job?
I can definitely say budget. When you already have an allocated budget and you have to do photoshoots and viral campaigns and things like that, that can sometimes become a bit of a situation if something comes up. For example if we have a photoshoot that’s booked on one day and we already hired the crew and we’ve already taken them financially, but if something comes up with the celeb that we’re shooting and they have to change their schedule, then we have to turn around and now pretty much re-book everything which is an unexpected expense. You’ve already booked a studio, the time, you’ve already paid for that, so if you have to change the date or time, you have to rebook.
Do you have any advice for readers who are considering a career 180?
I would love them to understand planning. So really have a plan, you can have a vision and a dream and a goal, but really study people that are already successful at what you’re trying to do. Don’t mimic them but admire what they do and bring your own self into it.