I recently had the opportunity to visit the amazing Harlem showroom of CEO, founder and designer Marie Jean-Baptiste (on the left) of her business RUE 107 brand right before Fashion Week 2012 in NYC.
Kass: Hi Marie, how are you?
Marie: I’m well, Kass. Thank you for coming.
Kass: It’s my pleasure! So, let’s start off with you telling us about your background?
Marie: My family and I relocated from Haiti to the U.S. fourteen years ago. Having dreams of pursuing a fashion design career, I applied to FIT was rejected due to lack of artistic skills. I went on to complete a nursing program and three years of a registered nursing program before deciding to quit health care to pursue fashion full-time. I spent three years studying under my fashion mentor Lemington Ridley.
Kass: What does RUE 107 come from?
Marie: The brand RUE 107 is French and means “Room 107”. The name was inspired by a vision came to me while working as a nurse, around the same time of the Haiti quake. I was attempting to talk to my mom about our family abroad when a patient bell began going off erratically while I was sitting across from room 107.
Kass: What inspires you?
Marie: My inspiration comes from many sources. Having worked in nursing, I found anatomy has helped me with patternmaking and symmetry. I am also inspired by colors, fabrics, and designs that move me. I actually don’t follow trends in the effort of creating unique fashion forward pieces.
Kass: What are some of your core design elements?
Marie: I would have to say my core design elements include: Color, Fit, Finishing, Quality, Presentation and Contrast and collision. I really love simplicity. Given the current state of the economy, I feel it is time to get back to basics. My current collection makes use of lots of Nudes and Black.
Kass: Has your life experience inspired your designs?
Marie: My motto is “I have nothing to lose and everything to gain”. When I arrived to this country I was malnourished. When you start with nothing, you have everything to gain in pursuing your goals.
Kass: Who is the RUE 107 target customer?
Marie: The RUE 107 customer is 18-34 yrs. old; she wants to stand out and likes attention. I feel wardrobe is a way to stand out. RUE 107 is for the girl that is not looking for something super safe.
Kass: What’s your favorite piece from your collection?
Marie: I just completed a costume piece for singer/ songwriter Tess who wore the outfit during her recent performance at the Afro Punk Fest. The piece is a black and white checkered body suit with an edge.
Also, my other favorite piece is the nude and black leggings I designed which are very similar to the RUE 107 leggings Nicki Minaj (above) wore a couple of weeks ago.
Kass: Where do you see the brand in the next 2 years? 5 years?
Marie: I foresee RUE 107 evolving and expanding into more retail stores. I also love costume design and would like to expand the brand and develop a costume department.
Kass: How will your style mesh with future styling trends?
Marie: As an entrepreneur first- I come from an intuitive space; I don’t follow trends, but am more than open to hiring a designer to assist in developing the best collection for the RUE 107 brand. I believe in shaking things up as needed.
Kass: In relation to your design style, which do you prefer: Classic or Edgy?
Marie: I’d say Classic.
Marie: I believe everything edgy derives from something classic.
Kass: Fun or Daring?
Marie: (She smiles). I would say fun. RUE 107 is all about embracing your fun side. From colors, to lines, to shapes to silhouettes, I want. Don’t forget to check us out at rue107.tumblr.com/ and rue107.com.
Kass: Thank you so much for your time! I have enjoyed leaning more about RUE 107.
Mari: Thank you, Kass!
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