My name is Kalisha Hall and I’m a fashion designer. My brand is K. RaShae Collection. I started designing wanting to make a difference because I grew up not loving myself and not wanting to be brown for a long time. All of my friends had very light complexions, and I’d always hear “oh, you’re pretty to be dark”. I would feel like a shadow or unnoticed. So, I wanted to start a company that celebrated our differences. Celebrated our curves, our complexions, which some of us may still consider as flaws. They aren’t.
You really have to be very strategic in how you go about promoting yourself [in the fashion industry]. You can quickly be put into the category of “urban”. Like, we can’t do anything in the industry of luxury? It’s very strategic of how I put myself forward. I couldn’t come out and be “oh, I’m Black and I’m proud” because then I’d be put in this box. It’s just all in timing. I’ll get there to where I can [fully] rep who I am. But the way that this industry is set up, I can’t come out so boldly, initially, because then it would hurt the brand and the business.
I got my first degree in fashion merchandising. I thought I wanted to be a buyer or a stylist or be on the business side of things because I couldn’t draw [laughs], at that time. So I graduated and I moved to Dallas and I started as a sales rep. But it was only cool during market when I got to show the clothes and talk about what would look good with what. Then I started thinking a lot about the clothes I was showing and how I would have designed them differently. I eventually told my manager, who was really cool, that I thought I wanted to get into design. And she was like, “well you should go back to school.” Me being from the south, I had really wanted to stay in the south. But she challenged me and told me I should think about New York. So, I applied to Parsons for kicks and giggles. I remember thinking, “oh, I’ll just apply, but I probably won’t get in and I’ll stay here in Dallas where it’s safe.”
But I got in and I got scholarships. It was just a no-brainer to move [to New York]. I graduated and did the whole design journey of interning, hustling, and bustling. I finally landed a job in menswear, ironically. Though, I really wanted to design for women. I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t as hands on as I wanted it to be. I was doing more visual merchandising for that particular brand. When I got let go, it hurt at the time but it was a blessing in disguise because it kick-started K. RaShae. I would never have taken that leap of faith if I wasn’t let go from that job. Hitting rock bottom made me realize I had no choice other than to go for what I wanted. This all happened in 2015 and I launched the first collection in 2016. I got invited to Paris (to show this past March) and this is my third collection.
I feel like the K. RaShae woman is young. But it also depends on the personality of the woman, which isn’t really defined by age you know? But it’s for that woman who grew up in the shadows and now she wants to come out. I make standout pieces, but not to the point where it’s obnoxious.
I talk to my team all the time about the fact that I don’t just want to make clothes. I want to make clothes for a purpose. And you’ll see that every collection is purpose driven. Every title of a collection has meaning behind it. Like ‘No Tux Given’ was about me moving to NYC and pulling from a mindset of not caring about what people think. You know coming from the south, there were times when I tried to fall back. I didn’t want people to be like “oh, who does she think she is?” and all that stuff. So, ‘No Tux Given’ was a play on words but also my mindset at the moment. And then I did ‘Prettiest Fighter’ because I feel like we have to put women at the forefront to let women know they’re not alone.
My beauty routine! I’ve been washing my face with Clean and Clear since I was like 15 [laughs]! I’ve been so loyal. But I use their Clean and Clear face wash for sensitive skin and I use the Clean and Clear facial moisturizer and the astringent. Literally just those three products.
I’m a more natural person when it comes to makeup. It has to be something going on for me to come with a beat face.
You know, I would tell young Black and brown girls that if they’re serious about working in the fashion industry to first get the education. A lot of people can try to tear you away from your dream, but if you’re educated, no one can stop you. Fashion is not easy. You have to have a passion for it. It’s not about the glam. You have to have a reason for why you’re doing what you’re doing so that you get up everyday and work at it. Even when the sales aren’t coming in or people aren’t accepting you.
I would tell her to find her reason for designing and then pursue that.