Welcome to Style Maven Sunday, a new segment highlighting women who are running things! Style Maven Sunday will be providing style tips from our favorite fashionistas, designers, style innovators, and go-getters. What a pleasure to start anew featuring one of Row A Seat 1’s VIPs, Tee Capel, fashion consultant of LAFD Tour, and boutique owner of Fly Behavior! Now let’s jump right into Tee’s fashion journey which begins in the sixth grade where she developed a passion and interest in the fashion industry. As a creative outlet, she would sketch herself in the clothing she saw from the runway shows she loved to watch. As she evolved, her love for fashion grew as well, originally, she decided to pursue a career in fashion design. Slightly chuckling, she explained to me that after submitting her portfolio to FIDM and getting accepted, unfortunately, she wasn’t able to move forward with this particular fashion institution. That said, Tee dropped some gems y’all, and I loved hearing her advice from a marketing and consulting point of view. After asking her about the catalyst for her interest in fashion, she continued to elaborate upon the journey that prepared her to become the Style Maven she is today.
Lexii: What was the catalyst for your interest in the fashion industry, and when did you notice you had a passion for it?
Tee Capel: So, I started attending Langston University, which was introduced to me at the time as a trade, and I wasn’t interested. I always found myself wanting to figure out a way to work or do creative things in the fashion industry. At that point, I moved to Chicago, where I started a personal shopping service, I worked in high-end retail, and that was my outlet. That was me getting that fix of fashion I always desired. From there, I launched a blog, which turned into my fashion showroom, and now my brand, Fly Behavior.
Lexii: Awesome! So, it kind of blossomed into what it is today?
Tee Capel: One thing kind of led to the next thing. Once I started personal shopping, working in the industry, and blogging that opened my eyes. It allowed me to see that there are so many options in the industry I can do, versus just being a designer. So, I thought to just explore different opportunities.
Lexii: I feel like so many fashionistas start off that way. Like, “oh I’m going to be a designer,” then you realize that designing isn’t for you, but there are other options to choose from. So many people fit into the fashion industry in unique ways why did you choose consulting?
Tee Capel: I chose to consult because when I started Fly Behavior, and even when I began blogging, and personal shopping it wasn’t a prevalent thing. You didn’t see a lot of young black women doing it, and this was over 10 years ago. You didn’t see a lot of black women owning boutiques, being buyers or stylists, or really working in high-end retail back then. Going through what I went through was trial and error to get to where I am today. I didn’t have anyone to help me answer those questions, to guide me where I should go to look for resources, or how to run a styling business. There was a lot of trial and error, and it’s a great trait. I wouldn’t change that, but I would probably be a lot further along if I had those people to look up to, mentor me, and guide me. I started consulting because I really wanted to be that resource for people who looked like me and be that resource to them that I didn’t have. Often times, I think people withhold information, ya know, I never wanted to be that person.
Lexii: What’s an important component about having a brand that you feel most people miss?
Tee Capel: Ooh, I would say the most important component is… Well, based on the clients I work with I would say presentation. The presentation is a very important component that really changes a lot of different aspects.
The way that you present your brand, whether it’s through your social media presence, packaging design, or your personal image. That is what can make or break the value people place on your brand or your product. So, I see a lot of times where someone has a great physical product, but the presentation is lacking. So, someone might not take it seriously.Tee Capel
If you have a candle, and your label is a paper label that you print off your computer. From what I see, if it (label) gets wet, the writing is going to fade or bleed. Those small details are really things customers pay attention to and a lot of people don’t think so. People take the term, “done is better than perfect” literally! For the same costs, it takes you to go to Kinkos or Staples to print them off, buy the ink, ya know that $150 dollars it costs you to do that every month is stopping you from the money you could invest into having the proper label from the beginning, right? So, just those small details are things that people miss and I understand why.
As creatives, you’re concerned with producing the product. That’s why most of my clients are creatives or designers because they’re focused on the business, creating, and not those small details that the consumer will pay attention to or details that will give you a better value for your product. Something that’s packaged well can sometimes be increased twice as much in price. Versus something that isn’t presented so well. So, I would say that’s the number one thing.
Lexii: Yes! I, too, enjoy receiving cute packaging, and those small details make me want to shop with that brand often just to get the cute box or perks it comes along with!
Tee Capel: That’s all marketing strategy. A lot of times, what you are packaging, people invest in it because it makes the customer want to take a picture of it and post it on social media! So, it’s free advertising and marketing. Your packaging is a part of your marketing strategy and your marketing budget because people want to be able to say, “I’m doing an unboxing!” It’s a great way to get free publicity from your customer!
Lexii: Do you have any advice for up and coming fashionistas looking to pursue a career outside of design and styling?
Tee Capel: Yes! I would say, follow your heart. Ya know, nowadays we have so much accessibility to the other people‘s world through social media. You see one person doing this and you’re thinking “aww that’s great!” Then, you see this person doing that, and it’s, “Wow they opened up a showroom” or they just started designing and manufacturing their own stuff. Now, this person has a boutique that’s bringing in a million dollars a year. So much is accessible to us, and we take it in if we are not conscious
. We start to idolize and aspire to what someone has or how they did it. I know me personally, I am a very transparent person, and I always talk about my process and how it has been. I’ve been in this industry, and building my business for seven years. It’s been up, it’s been down, and I know why. That’s why I speak on these things and provide my expertise because I speak on the successful side of the business as well as the not so successful side. A lot of people don’t do that.
Take a look at a part of your business and analyze what you like doing then do that. If you are not happy modeling your own clothes, then don’t, if you don’t want to talk only about fashion, then don’t. We can’t box ourselves into what we think we should be doing or what people expect us to do. We have to do what actually makes us happy to the core. Otherwise, down the line you will exhaust and drain yourself to the point where you are not satisfied personally, and it will affect how you conduct your business. I’m speaking from my personal experience. Do whatever makes you happy, not what is expected of you from your customers, society, or peers.
At the end of the day, we are a person outside of our business. We forget that. A lot of times we don’t separate the two, and we should. Yes, you should represent your business! If you have a lifestyle brand or product that you should be living what you are selling. If you are pretending to be one way because it’s your business, you aren’t aligned. But at the same time, we have to have a balance between how much we give ourselves to our business.
Lexii: Last one, more of a fun one. LA or Detroit? Doesn’t matter for fashion or in general.
Tee Capel: Ooh! That’s a hard one! *laughs in indecisiveness* BeBe told you to ask me that! She knows my heart, aww man. Both have a very special place in my heart. I’m from Detroit, I lived here until I was twenty-one, then I moved to Chicago after that for ten years, but I always had a desire to live in LA for about six of the ten years I lived in Chicago. So, LA always had a special place in my heart because that’s where I feel I can be my authentic self! Just because nothing is new, nothing is out of the ordinary, I always feel like I’m the most inspired there. Detroit is home, I love the people here, I love our grind, I love our work ethic, I love our grit. When it comes down to my personal choice, just because of the place and mindset it puts me in, I have to say LA. They both serve very different purposes in my life.
The fashion industry requires you to be more than a one-trick pony, oftentimes. Why not conquer it from the top to the bottom of the consumer chain? This November 2020, our Style Maven Sunday member will be opening her very own showroom! I mean, who would NOT love that? Tee Capel’s interview definitely is living, breathing proof that one lane isn’t the only lane, and when you are ready to start a new chapter it’s totally in your control. All you have to do is believe in yourself, and your capabilities! I hope you enjoyed my quick talk with the Fly Behavior fashionista. Follow her business pages on Instagram @flybheavior, @icreatechic, and @la.fashiondistricttour for popping pieces and amazing product design. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @rowaseat1. Ciao, Bellas!