Being young and having an entrepreneurial drive can have it’s ups and downs. You are young so you feel as if you have so much time to take over the world yet with your young age, there is doubt from people that you can even accomplish your goals. Janiya Whittington aka Jay is the owner of clothing brand, Motivated Jay, and at 16 she is knocking down every doubt that is thrown her way. Motivated Jay began early 2014 and the brand has seen exponential growth for only being around for a year. She will soon be releasing the Fall/Winter ’15 collection for the brand, “The Underrated Collection”, that she says is her favorite collection so far. Jay wants to let the world know about who she is as a designer and as a brand owner because she has a long way to go but knows her name will be known. Get to know more about Jay and Motivated Jay below.
1. Why did you want to start a clothing brand? Where did your interest in fashion begin?
I became interested when I began to find my style in like 7th-9th grade. The amount of freedom and expression that is within fashion amazed me. It’s your story and your vision! No one can restrict you from making anything, not your mom, not your friend, nobody. Then, my vision just grew from there into something very beautiful. I made Motivated Jay because I didn’t like how fashion was ending up, especially when I went to the mall (I don’t even shop there anymore). I would always see different stores duplicating one another to the point where you would have the same product, just different prices. The products had no real meaning or message, just shirts with flowers and lame graphics. To me, I wasn’t comfortable with that being in the “fashion” category cause it belonged in the “money-hungry” category. It’s all about money to majority of the people in the fashion industry! They never think about how just one clothing item can relate to a person or spread an essential message. I was fed up and I thought to myself, “Yo, it has to be other people feeling this way. Let me give them what they need and we’ll see how this go.” After about a year and a few months, the journey is going incredibly great.
2. With being a young, black female, what are some of the challenges you have come across and how did you overcome?
You just stated two of my most constant challenges: I’m 16 and a female. Sometimes I don’t get taken serious because of those two things. I was told that I couldn’t do what I am doing now. My age gets thrown at me a lot because some think that I wouldn’t take Motivated Jay serious. I sure proved them wrong though because I worked on it so much and it’s growing. Most of the people I meet don’t even believe me when I tell them that I’m a 16-year old entrepreneur. Having those challenges puzzled me because I didn’t think that people would disregard me due to those facts about me. Then I just stopped being so negative and looked at the positive side of that. Instead, I used it as motivation to show that the youth and females can do anything that they can put their mind to. That really pushed me in a great direction! I have people telling me that I inspire them to do great things and it makes me know that I’m doing something right. I come across a few cases of gender roles and I hate it so much. It’s so ignorant! Motivated Jay is known for not following the norm and being a true individual. I have items that talk about porn and getting high, just stuff that will upset someone’s mom. 🙂 Some say “You’re a girl! You shouldn’t make stuff like that!” Like that’s lame, they want me to make shirts with sparkles and glitter on it like no…that’s not who I am at all. If I was a boy, it would be crickets which is not fair. So, I guess I’m going to continue to upset people. By doing that, I’m encouraging my supporters to STAND UP FOR YOURSELF, IT’S OKAY TO BE WEIRD, FOCUS, DON’T LET ANYONE CHANGE YOU, AND DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!
3. How would you describe your new collection and what all will you be offering that is different than your past collections?
“The Underrated Collection” is going to be amazing, deep, and revolutionary. All of the collections I have made so far are great, but you can see my growth and progression as an artist in this Fall/Winter’s collection. This collection is completely different from my others because there will be 4 products with 4 separate releases and all of the products will have limited quantities. It’s either you get it right then or never, so it’s a pretty big deal. There will also be more varieties of colors! It will really be speaking for people everywhere, especially the youth of today. The collection I released in February had like inappropriate and funny graphics. It was all fun and games then but, “The Underrated Collection” is more on a serious note. It speaks of topics that most do not touch like parents, depression, and more. It’s giving a voice to the unheard and the opressed, I’m speaking up for them.
4. How well do you follow trends yet are able to stay away from them when creating clothing?
I don’t really follow trends. I’ll only be apart of one if I know that I can use it to share a great message to people. Other than that, I stay away from them because it’s basically following everyone. That’s not what I stand for-I’m a leader and a rebel.
5. Other than your clothing brand, what else would you like to do creatively?
I would love to perform at open mic events because I write poetry and I believe that I can connect with several people that way other than with fashion. I want to learn more about creative direction, so I can throw events to give other people of the creative world the exposure they deserve.
6. While your brand will gain more success, when you get to a top level of success, how will you give back to the black community?
7. Who are some of your inspirations in fashion?
Rihanna, Donmonique, Luka Sabatt, Kanye West and Alexander Wang have definitely inspired me.
8. What designer do you feel is killing it the most?
DEFINITELY KANYE WEST! He has been making so many power moves that it makes no sense, especially within the sneaker game. His fashion show was legendary and the Yeezy Boosts just dropped. He’s an all around artist and such a wise man.
9. What are some of your must have staples in your closet?