Fashion Designer and clothing brand developer Maxie J. has taken it upon herself to build Ellaé Lisqué, a business venture which is inclusive, resourceful, and all about women! While many fashion enthusiasts continue to have conversations about inclusion in the fashion industry, the LA native took it upon herself to sit at her own table. In 2014, Maxie created Ellaé Lisqué, a brand that embodies women, making them feel sexy, sophisticated, and bossy!
Tell us about Maxie, where did you grow up, and when did your passion for fashion begin?
I grew up in Inglewood, California. I was very much into fashion when I was younger to the point of winning best dressed and most popular in Junior High school. My parents, however, are very old school, so the chances of becoming a successful fashion designer were zero to none. I tried everything academically but ended up quitting because I felt none of it was for me. I tried styling on family and friends, and my work spread like that.
What motivated me to start with the business is a Steve Harvey YouTube video that spoke about things you’re good at vs. your passion. I knew I liked styling people, and I started focusing on fashion. I used Google and Youtube for notes when I started. I’d go around knocking from door to door, and I taught myself everything.
About the brand…
Tell us about your brand name Ellaé Lisqué. Is there a meaning behind it?
It’s pronounced “LA Lisqué” – I wanted a cool name for my brand. LA is where I’m from, and Lisque comes from the word “Risqué” because my style is very sexy, but I just changed the word around and went with something that flows, which is Lisqué.
In September, you had a fashion show, debuting “The Birthday Collection.” Tell us more about the collection and your goal with it.
It’s always somebody’s birthday, and my customer service department reported that 80% of my customers were always complaining that they don’t get the dresses/outfits they want by their birthdays because everything sells out. Then I thought, why not just create a collection dedicated to birthdays, and that’s when “The Birthday Collection” came about.
You’ve got a huge list of A-listers who show support to your brand. What does celebrity support mean for your brand, and is this what Ellaé Lisqué embodies?
I have a lot of A-listers that support my brand, but my typical client is the girl next door. I try to have the typical girl wearing my clothes; the brand is very inclusive. I try not to make the brand too Hollywood. If I’m going to have these people supporting me and have this platform, then I’m going to use it in a good way, Do God’s work, and set an example for other women. You have to be in connection with your core clientele and not who’s hot now.
As a black designer, how important is it for you to push the “Support Black” narrative, and are you getting that kind of support from the industry?
I am always emphasizing the importance of supporting black in my personal brand. I admire the Jewish community because they stick together, and I wish we also had that as black people. People always preach ‘support black,” but they do not practice it. I highlighted the importance of supporting black at my fashion show, and I’m very intentional about my people and making sure that the black brand succeeds. We definitely should support other races too for a more equal environment, but I find a balance, putting my people first without putting others down; it’s a very thin line between the two, and I try not to blur the line.
You’ve dressed some of the best black women so far, but who is that one woman you feel would change your life if she wore your designs?
Maxie: Definitely Beyoncé! I would literary die! Not only do I admire her work ethic, but she’s been in the industry so long, but she’s not on the streets. She has impeccable style and is just the perfect embodiment of a woman.
What are future plans for Ellaé Lisqué?
Holiday time is coming up, and that’s the peak time for the brand. I have a really dope holiday collection coming up. I also have a Masters Class – Fashionnaire Academy – coming up to teach the girls how to thrive in the industry. There’s also a book I’m working on called “The Fashionnare – How to make millions of dollars in the fashion industry.” It’s coming very soon. I’m striving right now, and I want to pass on the knowledge. I had to bump my head a thousand times to get here. If I can teach (others) how to avoid the head bumps, then I’d be living my full purpose and doing God’s work. My success isn’t just for me to be successful, but I’m trying to make ways for others to be successful too!