There are so many countries that are just going through it, because we are unaware. Because we aren’t taking the time to educate ourselves on what kind of clothes we’re buying, get woken up. That’s what I think.”
What’s good babies? I’m actually really excited because I got to interview one of my legit favorite people on this planet, ARIA. She constantly inspires me to stay on my shit, follow my dreams, and just be a better person. Her heart is as big as her shoe collection, and believe me, she has shoes for days. She’s just a beautiful person inside and out. Aria came to this early morning interview ready to give me her all her energy, as she does with any task she comes in contact with. We sat down in the treehouse (if you know, you know.) for the last time and talked about her current road to fashion designer and entrepreneur…
SEANTIERRE: When did you realize that fashion was your calling?
ARIA: Honestly, fashion was the first thing I ever wanted to do when I was little. But just through like, ya know growing up and having all these adults telling me what’s possible and what’s not or whatever, I just lost that dream somewhere along the way.
And then, I think it was the end of 2017 when I took my first fashion class. And then by the beginning of 2018, me and Bran were conceptualizing the brand; like what we wanted it to be. So, I’d only been doing it for like six months when we were like, “we don’t, bruh, we don’t even need to be in school for this. We could just get this shit poppin’ right now’ ya know?”
And then I think after we started conceptualizing A NATURAL DISASTER and what we wanted to do with it. That’s when it kind of really solidified in myself. So, probably only like almost a year ago now, did I find out that it was actually a calling. Because I wanted to do something to help people, and I didn’t know that fashion could do that. So, through conceptualizing what we want to be as a brand and who our identity is, and that was, then I kind of was like, “okay, I could do this. Okay.”
S: That’s lit, I didn’t know that it just happened.
A: Yeah, I had been interested in clothes for so long, but I never knew that this was gonna be where I was about to take my life.
S: What is the overall goal of A NATURAL DISASTER?
A: There’s a lot, but I’ll give you the top three.
Number one, these are in no particular order, to challenge peoples’ perceptions of one, what fashion is; and two, gender norms. I think that I wanna break that down. I wanna put guys in crop tops, and have a lot of the clothes be unisex. And just explore the fact that even guys can wear dresses, ya know? Like they could fuckin’ rock that shit. I wanna tear down the perceptions of male and female.
Another thing I really wanna do is give back to the community that we’re in. A huge huge part of it is the philanthropy aspect, and I want the best case scenario that I see in my head right now, which probably can be topped, honestly. But, what I see in my head right now is having a day where we rent out a venue where it’s this huge ass warehouse. People come in, they donate clothes. All day they funnelin’ through whatever.
We’re providing them food for the day, or maybe there’s some games there for kids and families to interact with or whatever. We get all the donations from that day, of clothes or whatever, it could be home goods or whatever it is; take two weeks to like, fuck it up completely and then throw an event. Same way, like probably the same venue. Have people come through, and I want it to be more so homeless people at that stage, and just give ’em back. Like for free.
I don’t want your money, I just want you to come in, have a good meal, give back to you, and put you in some fresh shit, ya know? I think that it’s super important to give back and just be recycling clothes; not having them end up in landfills. There’s so many people that need them out there and we’re just fuckin giving ’em to Goodwill. There’s better ways that we can do that. Especially like the food part. Just giving them somewhere where they could go to, and know that someone is looking out for them. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
Then, third goal would be having my own manufacturing plant. Like from the ground up. I want it to be like floors, I want us to have our own pattern makers. Our garment workers, I want to treat them how garment workers should be treated. I don’t know how much you know about the fashion industry and how much outsourcing we do through other countries and shit. In those other countries, their working conditions are absolute shit. There’s building fires and shit, buildings collapse on top of people because they’re not up to building code because they don’t want to put money into it. Like you know, these people are what we – we wear clothes every single day, they’re making our stuff and we are treating them like shit. And they don’t even get paid a decent amount of money for living conditions.
So I want to own that. I want to be sustainable about it, give them medical benefits, fucking treat them right. I want to take care of them and their families and know that they’re good. So, that’s like a really big goal too.
S: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
A: Ooo, good one dude. Because it’s not the actual design of clothes. I don’t think like, people aren’t fresh ya know. Like, people are fresh, I’m gonna add stuff to it, but like that’s not my goal with this. I think it might be – it is creating sustainable fashion and doing my part to reduce pollution of the fashion industry.
I love the rescue section of a natural disaster because I think that that’s dope. Like hitting those, one recycling clothes and getting them back out there to people. Then two, you’re hitting those lower price points so people don’t feel like you have to be ballin’ out for designer stuff. Like no, it could just be a Walmart shirt that we turned in to be dope asf. Like who knows what it’s gonna be.
S: Honestly, because I like having that option now when I go out thrifting and I can see something and be like, okay I kinda like it. But, like high key if I gave it to Aria…
A: Right, she could fuck it the fuck up, and I love that. Another goal is to really open up the dialogue between consumer and designer. I want to be accessible to my customers, and be able to create. Like you (me), ya know you have this dressed you fucked with, but then like it broke so what are we gonna do to it? you were able to come to me and be like, “these would be fire as a skirt or a pair of shorts, what do we do with this?”
I wanna be accessible to my consumers and have a relationship with them. Like, I fuck with you, and I fuck with you because you care about your fashion, one, and sustainability second. By buying through A NATURAL DISASTER or anything that upcycles like that, I think you’re doing your part, by reducing pollution and not fucking just ending everything up in a landfill.
S: Where do you see the future and taking A.N.D?
A: I told you guys on the day of the Rockford fashion show, gimme three years and I’m gonna be in New York Fashion Week. Five years, I’m gonna be overseas. Like in Milan, Paris, whatever. Fashion week has never been a driving force for me, but I think it’s a good goal to set for myself because I’m not gonna be dropping Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. I’m gonna be droppin’ shit on y’all the time. That’s a goal that I have, but honestly, I can feel the momentum picking up.
I think we are going to be not only a fashion line, but also a non-profit. Obviously, that would be a separate business entity, but I see that. Dude, me and Bran have talked about when we get employees and stuff, what the internship process is gonna be like. We’re gonna take in people that have any interest in fashion whatsoever; they don’t necessarily have to have a background in it yet. The internship process would be like, where people are creating. Where we’re putting them groups that have to create new looks, exercising their energy as designers and not only doing what we want, ya know?
I want to have a YouTube channel where you actually know us, and you’re like, “Aria used live in southern Illinois, that’s where she grew up and that’s where all this shit happened.”
I just want you to know me and to know Bran, and to know that we’re just young hustlers tryna get it and I want to give that message out. And I want to give back to and invest in other people that are trying to get it like us, whether that be in the same lane or not.
S: Have you ever thought about if it wasn’t fashion, what it would be?
A: Definitely, I have a lot of different interests actually. One time, it was actually right before I took my first fashion class, I didn’t know what to do. But I knew I needed to go back to college because I had taken a year off, and in order to figure out what I wanted to do I wrote down all my interests. Like things that genuinely brought me happiness, of course. Like making clothes and fashion was on that. I don’t think making clothes necessarily was yet, but that’s why I took the fashion class. Right next to all the stuff I had written down, I wrote how I could make money off all those things.
Somethings off top real estate; I love agriculture and interior design and getting into that whole world is definitely a business venture that I’m going to go through within the next five years, definitely. Also, cooking. I fucking love to cook and I really would like to do my own cookware line or recipe book and get that shit poppin. Because I’m fire dude, like it would really be amazing. Some other things, lemme think… I haven’t looked at that list in a while.
But obviously, it was fashion and that’s why I decided to take the fashion class. To be like, “how hard is it to make clothes?” Which it’s fuckin’ hard dude, honestly, it’s hard but its definitely something you could learn.
S: But it’s rewarding though.
A: Exactly. To realize that, dude you’ve helped me cut out fabric. These are flat ass pieces and there’s 10 of them for one piece. It’s a beautiful thing to see that come to life, and then it’s like a whole different high whenever I get to see it on you guys. In a fashion show it’s like, “AHHH!”
Writer’s note: I’m not being dramatic, she actually screamed
It’s better than any kind of drug that I’ve ever done, it’s actually amazing.
Another thing, the financial literacy, which I’ve kind of explored a little bit with you. I think that is an amazing adventure that I am definitely going to pick back up within this next year, because teaching people about money is completely pivotal in their life and necessary. Our whole society revolves around it and us being young creatives need to be able to start investing now in ourselves so we have things to touch later and pull from, and be like, “Yo, we can actually invest in our creativity because we did this stuff when we were young.” So that’s another thing.
Honestly, it’s not gonna be if fashion isn’t it. It’s gonna be like, what can I do while I’m doing fashion because I’m gonna answer your question too. Because I don’t think I answered the question with that. Those are things I wanna do with fashion if it wasn’t fashion. What I truly went into school for… pediatrician.
Like I love, love, love kids and I knew I wanted to help people. That’s kind of what I went for, and from pediatrics, it transformed into art therapy. That was like for sure what I was gonna do before I took this fashion class. I loved the whole idea behind art therapy and being able to draw things out of people that they didn’t even know they had within themselves. Like past things that are holding them back and stuff. I wanted to be able to shed that layer, rip it off completely and have them heal it.
I would love to invest in an art therapist and give them a dope ass creative studio and be involved in that process, but I don’t think that’s something I’m going to do anymore. Yeah, I think it was like, ya know how adults just shit you when we were growing up?
You get told that you can do anything, but like they definitely are like, “but in reality, you should do this.” Like, you should pick a safe career and I think that those were like my safe careers; not really letting my creative side go all the way. Like feeding it and letting it get sips of water once a week, but not actually every day. I think that’s where those two came in [pediatrician and art therapist]. I think those are just from people being like, “dude pick something realistic or whatever.” I think if I was a conventional motherfucker that’s what lane I’d be in right now, if I was scared.
S: A.N.D’s plans for the year?
A: The year is gonna be huge for us, you’ll get at least three drops throughout 2019. It’s not gonna be any of the same shit and it will be limited quantities. You can expect to see the “Unthawed” documentary come to fruition. Which I’m super excited about. It is a beautiful process we’re documenting, and we’ve gotten some really good footage from it and it’s gonna be really inspiring.
Another thing you can expect is I want to get to a place, after the website drop, where I’m flipping recused shit at least once a week. Like, I’m literally putting rescued shit on the website once a week, from packing. I have two full ass bins of just rescued stuff and I just need to start making moves on it.
Also, you can expect to see our first Philanthropy event. I want to document it completely. I want to really document it and almost have a little short film about it. About us giving back to the community and what that’s gonna look like. Honestly, I don’t know how much further were gonna take it just for the year, but already we have some shit for the new year that we’re visualizing.I think those are like solid pillars that we’ll have for the year and then after that, we’ll see what’s good after that. Because I think there’ so much growth to do. From 2019 to 2020 is like, I can feel the momentum picking up, I’m so excited.
S: Okay, last question. What is your most important fashion tip?
A: It would be that, you don’t always have to go crazy fucking hard to be fresh… Like let’s bring back the normalization to be fresh in some fuckin sweatpants that, I don’t even know, maybe have some paint splattered on them or some shit or like they fit you really well; they’re cuffed at the bottom.
I’m not finishing any sentence right now, but own what the fuck your wearing and it doesn’t always have to be like a crazy outfit. You don’t have to go hard hard in a fucking evening gown or a skirt. Let’s fucking make everything look fresh because of our confidence within it.
Another good one is to not always shop for new stuff. Go out into the thrift store and see what you can get, and if you aren’t someone who wants to fuck with thrifted stuff go to Plato’s Closet. That’s a little bit more of an upscale one. There’s plenty of places online and A NATURAL DISASTER will be online soon. There’s plenty of places with brands that are trying to do something about the fashion industry and make an impact in it. I think the majority of us are unaware of how deep the fashion industry is like fucking up our planet. And we’re all just like consume, consume. Gimme the cheapest thing; gimme H&M, but make it fresh. And because were demanding those prices as consumers, that’s what’s fuckin up the garment workers in Bangladesh or wherever they are.
There are so many countries that are just going through it, because we are unaware. Because we aren’t taking the time to educate ourselves on what kind of clothes we’re buying. Get woken up. That’s what I think.
There you have it, ARIA at her finest. Aria, darling I hope this made you proud and reminded you why you grind so damn hard. I would do anything for this girl, she is the realest kind of person you will ever meet. And I hope I was able to capture that for you guys. If not, follow her journey and watch her reveal just how real she is herself! I hope you enjoyed the motherf*ckin’ episode of ROLLIN’ WIT DA HOMIES and until next time, don’t do nothing I wouldn’t do.