Imagine being a 19-year old lingerie designer and fashion student in the concrete jungle, managing a full-time college course work load and every aspect of your own company. (The sketching, buying, sewing, shipping, social networking… Everything!) Imagine that after teaching yourself how to sew at age 13, you launched your own business at age 15, and then enrolled in Parsons School of Design, moving from Atlanta to New York City to take the next steps towards achieving your career goals at age 18. Imagine putting everything you’ve got on the line to invest in yourself and the alignment of your dreams and real life. Would you have the courage to do it?! Do you think you could handle pressure?! Skylar Marshai can, and her self-made fairytale of confidence, progression, and dominating with her sewing machine is proof!
On the surface of things, you could say that Skylar is a typical 19-year old woman who loves the average girly things like dressing up, shopping, writing, reading, cafés, flowers, Instagram aesthetics, etc… But when you get a deeper look into her lifestyle and passion for building brands and businesses that will change the world, Skylar will make you think twice and leave you wondering if there is any such thing as “a typical 19-year old woman,” at all.
This past week as Skylar was on a journey through the city making her way home from work, we had the opportunity to have a phone conversation about her 4-year journey with her brand — Ralyks. She told me the story about how Ralyks has become what it is today; an intimates brand with lingerie that is my personal top choice when shopping for new sets.
Learning more about Skylar and her empowering intentions as a young designer in the cut-throat fashion industry made me feel even more connected to the brand and has inspired me to continue conquering the world in my laced bra with floral appliqués!
Many of us business owners can relate to often referring to our companies as “we” even though it’s is really only, “I” or, one person behind all of the building and operating… And Skylar has a tendency to do the same! Right as she was beginning to tell me about the early days of Ralyks, she paused to elaborate on who’s really on her team behind the scenes. “Haha, I’m always saying ‘we’ when I’m talking about my company, but by that I really mean just me and Ralyks. I consider Ralyks to be my baby; it’s just us two!”
We originally started with doing menswear and womenswear — what you’d consider to be urban or street wear. It was something that wasn’t solid yet because I didn’t really know where I was headed; I just loved to create. As time passed, I got into designing womenswear more because there is a wide variety of things to pick from in that category.
As a result, lingerie came about as part of a collection I was going to release for Winter 2016. I released a pre-collection of bralettes and matching bottoms which got a lot of attention through social media! I got so many orders that I was like, “Okay… I want to be able to do what I love, but at the same time I have to be realistic and I have to make money some how!” So really, I transitioned to lingerie because it was doing well and I had a knack for it, just like apparel… And it was something that I could get my name out there with.
Skylar also made the decision to transition Ralyks into a full-on intimates brand because she realized that she would be able to send a message to the world with it. She wanted to change perspectives and make an impact on the industry by pushing lingerie to an audience of ALL women; not just the standard small, unrealistic girl most intimates are targeted towards. She came up with a plan on how to attack lingerie and provide it in a way that satisfies the needs of every woman, and she refers to this plan as the “Three S’s.” Rather than categorizing her pieces as plus-sized or skinny, she categorizes them according to shape, size, and shade. Whatever category you’re searching in is what she will provide lingerie for!
So if you see, it’s been a process. But that’s the kind of journey I’m on… It’s a work in progress! With the direction my brand was going in, I finally decided that lingerie is definitely what I want to do. It was the last collection — “Fille En Fleur” that was the official launch of Ralyks as and intimates brand rather than apparel. That happened this past spring 2016 and from there, it stemmed into what it is now. It’s like an on-going process of tackling certain needs every single time I put something out.
Giving an insight to the collection she’s currently working on, Skylar explained how she plans to tackle different issues with intimates apparel in order to satisfy the needs of her customers. Right now, she’s focused on using shade to solve an issue that women of color are having with “nude” lingerie; caused by the majority of companies that make the same nudes for black women that are made for caucasian women. To satisfy her customer’s needs in the future under the size category, she might put out pieces to complement the bodies of shorter women… And for the shape category, she might put out pieces that complement bodies of curvy women.
Skylar is the only young designer I know of who creates lingerie (she’s the only designer I know of who creates handmade lingerie, period!), and she does it in a way that makes her apparel perfect for any woman! The fact that her items are handmade allows her to customize pieces that will continuously fit her customer’s needs. She’s a one-of-a-kind designer with a business plan that I’m sure a lot of us can truly appreciate … And she’s always willing to offer advice to young designers and creatives aspiring towards a new career as well.
Have you totally fallen in love with the Ralyks brand too?! If so, be sure to follow them on Instagram @RalyksIntimates and treat yourself by shopping the current collection at Ralyks.com. You can also learn more about Skylar through her personal website, SkylarMarshai.com + her Twitter account @SkylarMarshai!
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