Blake Olivia on designing her destiny

Blake Olivia Photo: Janai Crudup

Blake Olivia Photo: Janai Crudup

Blake Bolton is an Atlanta based fashion designer who has built her brand one design at a time. A few fashion shows, pop up shops, and pieces later, she has built a website to showcase her passion and projects. Blake creates collections as a depiction of her life, energy, and imagination. She excited to use the talent God has given her to empower any woman or man wearing her designs. Blake spoke with me about how she has developed her brand as a deisgner and where she sees Blake Olivia Designs in the future.

How did you get your start as a designer?

In 2017, I began sewing as a hobby before considering it to be something I could use to start a business. Sewing was just my way of having my own thing outside of working and being snuggled up under my man. Turns out, I really enjoy it and kept pushing forward. I practiced by making clothes for myself and for friends, which was great real world application. Ever since, I have evolved into a designer specializing in swimsuits.

What was your introduction into fashion?

My mom was my initial introduction into fashion. Everything in her wardrobe was and is, classic, timeless, and extra all at the same time. Subliminally, I believe her closet and the clothes that hung in it had a true influence on who I am today. She was stylish, a model and a thriftier with a keen eye, which has trickled down to me. My mom played a big role in introducing me to fashion, but ever since I can remember I have always loved clothes and had my own style. In high school, college, and even now, I have always cut up clothes and repurposed them on the spot. Clothes were my creative outlet and still are.  

Blake Olivia Designs Photo: Janai Crudup

Blake Olivia Designs Photo: Janai Crudup

How have you developed your craft over time?

I am a self-taught designer, which means the learning never stops. I began by sewing garments backwards and upside-down to putting elastic in swimsuits to now making full-blown outfits. I mostly practice to develop my craft, but I am trying to research and network more to sharpen my skills as a designer. I enjoy trying new things which creates opportunities for me to become an expert in other areas, outside of just swimwear.

Where do you pull inspiration from?

I pull inspiration from a lot of sources: Instagram, magazines, people that I pass, thrifting, my imagination, the fabric store and more. What stimulates my creativity the most is walking around the fabric, thrift and/or antique stores and simply looking to see what comes to mind. Colors, patterns, and textures also give me ideas and inspiration.

What does it mean to you to be a designer of color?

To me, being a designer of color, means going against the grain and changing the idea of what designers looks like. It means showing the world fashion through our eyes. Today, there are so many African American designers. I think it is a great train to be riding because it can eventually lead to having more African Americans in the manufacturing and fashion industry. It honestly makes me very excited.

Where do you see Blake Olivia Designs in the next 5 years?

It seems like my goals change all the time and become bigger than the last. The more time that passes, the more goals that I accomplish, the more clarity I get that I am living in my purpose. I am currently focused on running and managing a successful online store, while increasing my presence in the fashion industry. Five years from now, I see Blake Olivia providing more than just swimsuits, but we will keep that a secret for right now. I see myself running my business full-time and being able to build and employ a team.  Also, I want to get into the educational aspect of sewing to help the next person enter this industry. Other goals I have include, becoming more experienced in sketching, fabric sourcing, structural design, pattern making, trend predicting and production. Overall, my goal is to always be better than I was the yesterday. Cliché I know.

You can keep up with Blake via social media:

IG: @blakethegirl and store: @shopblakeolivia