Article by Liz Riley, Editor
       What makes a person “fascinating”?  I’d say they must be multi-faceted… exude passion, talent, creativity,  have lots of interesting things to say and lots of plans for exciting things to do…and of course, they achieve success as the result of all of these things, along with great ideas and hard work.

       Meet Joanna de’Shay, designer, entrepreneur, student, teacher, MBA, speaker, and owner of Black Russian Label, contemporary, artistic women’s apparel. I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Joanna earlier this week.

Q. You hold a BA in Business Marketing , and an MBA in Organizational Management, as well as a Fine Arts Masters Degree in Fashion Design. Did you pursue these degrees with the idea of opening your own fashion house?

A. Initially, no. I’m a marketer and I love fashion, but I knew I needed a fashion education and business background and wanted a career in the industry, but I also knew what I didn’t want which was to not be able to create my own aesthetic. So I decided to open my own company.

Q. What inspired you to name your company Black Russian Label?

A. I was born on the western coast of Africa, and my father was Nigerian, but my mother was Russian. You company needs to be representative of who you are, not just what you do. Black Russian Label is that representative identity.

Q. What drew you to Arizona?  What do you foresee for the industry here?

A. Moving to Arizona was circumstantial, and a family decision. I’ve been here since I was 11. Phoenix is the only U.S. city I’ve ever lived in. Fashion is in everything, and Arizona is limitless. You have a level playing field here. You aren’t restricted by the attitudes and intense competition that you’ll find in Los Angeles and New York.

Q. You’re also teaching at Estrella Community College. Running your own company is more than a full time job. Why teach too?

A. Because I need to remain fresh and have an edge. Kids are always redefining the way we see fashion. They aren’t afraid to challenge the rules. They constantly give me fresh perspective.

Q. You clearly think education is important. What would you advise someone just starting out?

A. Whether or not you think you need education, you do. There is no such thing as too much learning. I highly suggest that you go take some business courses as well as basic fashion courses.  You need remain ahead of the curve.

Q. What’s your philosophy of life? What keeps Joanna motivated to do so much?

A.  I love what I do. I want to live my life pursuing the all things I enjoy and I want my kids to grow up knowing they can be authentic and experience what’s joyful and meaningful.

Thanks, Joanna. 

For more information on Joanna de’Shay, check out http://blackrussianlabel.com, or contact her at Black Russian Label, 602-402-7771.

Joanna is offering Black Russian Label fans 20% off the purchase of one item for a limited time. Enter the code PHXFW when you order online.

If you want to meet Joanna, she’ll be the featured speaker at the next Fashion Arizona Meet-up on Thursday, January 13th 2011, at the Firehouse Lounge, 4312 N. Brown Ave, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. 480-265-6989

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