We loooove your style, and we LOVE the fact that you serve a specific audience! – Please tell us more about you, your teacher journey, and how you got into fashion?
I am of Jamaican descent with both my parents being born on the island. Born and raised in Mount Vernon New York and moved to Atlanta to finish my high school and college years. I am a mother of one soon-to-be two. I have a daughter who is three years old. I am married to my wonderful husband of 3 years but a total of 8 being together. We are excited and looking forward to expanding our family!
I graduated undergrad in Early childhood education at Kennesaw State University. Received my Masters’s in Education Media Design and Technology at Full Sail University. While taking courses I spent time abroad teaching conversational English to Taiwanese students in 5th and 6th grade. Finished up my grad school experience back at Kennesaw State for my Ed.S in Instructional Technology.
My teaching journey started before undergrad as I was doing lots of tutoring on the side to make some money. That actually motivated me to further my education in education. Towards the end of my undergrad, I landed a substitute position at several schools throughout Cobb County. There I learned how to build relationships with both my peers and students.
My time in Taiwan allowed me to experience education on a different level. I learned how much more they valued teachers and education and there it made me proud to be a teacher. It wasn’t until I returned to the U.S. that I landed my first contract job as a full-time teacher. The principal that hired me gave me prior roles as an after-school teacher and then a permanent sub. Whatever she saw in me allowed me to land the position full-time. Within a year I moved up as team lead. My leadership was molded by the group of ladies that ran the school so effortlessly. I learned a lot about determination, leadership, support, and proper training. I learned a lot about what a classroom teachers should know and perform to the best of their abilities.
I eventually left that school because a change was in my path. I landed another classroom teacher position for 2nd grade. I then taught kindergarten for the following two years as Grade Level Chair and landed my current role as Department Chair of lower school intervention as the interventionist specialist.
As for fashion. That was always there. Having two outgoing aunts who were always on the scene of every event I raided their closet and my first love was shoes! My aunt and I wore the same size and she would often gift me the ones she no longer wanted to wear. The shoes motivated what I would wear to make the perfect outfit.
I wasn’t always confident in the way that I looked but it was something about feeling good in the clothes that I wore that built my confidence to where it is now.
What pushed you to start a business to serve other teachers with styling!?
During my time in the school building, I received lots of compliments on the outfits that I wore. Many teachers would ask me where I bought certain items or even asked me to shop for them when I was just browsing on a weekend. After building relationships with some of my coworkers it became real easy to know what they would like to wear and how to help them make it look good. At the first school, I worked with a lot of older women who only cared about teaching the students. In the second school, I worked with younger teachers who mostly cared about looking good. Somewhere between the two,
And with that need, I wanted to start a business that would serve teachers with styling.
Who are some of your biggest style inspirations and what do you love most about their looks?
One of my favorites is Rhianna! It must be an island girl thing because her style is the bomb! Can we still say that? She exuberates freeness in her style and she can be seen in all different genres and still look good. Her character in Ocean’s 8 showed how she can look grungy to ballroom ready in one take. There are no limits to what she wears.
Issa Rae is another fashion icon I admire. It’s all about the hair. Being a woman of color with a daughter and a teacher, wearing my hair in its natural state is important because representation matters. She’s showed me all the ways I can wear my hair and more. Hair is a big thing to style as well.
Last but not least, is Kerry Washington’s character Oliva Pope from Scandal. She makes you want to dress professionally all the time regardless of what your career is. Although she is based on a character her looks of cream peacoats and purses to match always gave me principal vibes.
Who are some of your favorite teachers? What about them resonates with you most?
This is always a tough question because I’ve encountered so many teachers that made huge impacts on my life. But I would have to say my favorite teacher is my first teacher ever, my mom! She taught me that there are no limits on how much you can learn. She taught me patience and perseverance during times I felt like giving up.
Another teacher would have to be my first Art teacher in elementary school. She taught me realms of creativity. Through her, I knew there were no limitations on colors, patterns, or texture. I take a lot of that into my wardrobe. I think that’s why my style is so versatile.
My high school Social Studies teacher taught me how to engage those through storytelling. Her lessons were so engaging and she was able to relate every topic to a story that kept me mesmerized to learn more about the topic outside of the classroom. She allowed creativity to intertwine with each chapter and by that, I created projects that actually helped me to pass the class with flying colors. I’m reminded of her when I share my knowledge of fashion with my clients and make our experience together memorable so they can continue coming back and wanting to learn more even on their own.
The last one I will share is my first black female teacher ever. My college professor. I was so excited just walking into her classroom and seeing her. Having to call her Dr. was the only motivation for me to go all the way in any situation I was in. Just her presence lead me to believe not only in no limits to learning but no limits to anything that I wanted to do in my life. She spoke with grace and was always presentable. When she walked in the lecture hall everyone had to stop and stare at her latest fashion picks for her wardrobe. I wanted to be her, like seriously. I wanted to carry that same presence and because of her I always kept it cute, classy, and professional. Always.
How did you learn the business side of things; in reference to leveraging entrepreneurship, marketing, and client relations?
Thank you, Tech background, and YouTube! I knew a little bit about business because I did some entrepreneurship in the past. Tutoring was one but I really got into making shea butter and teacher products. I had a brand and everything. I still sell it on occasions and currently have an account on Teacher Pays Teachers as well. I attended many pop-up shops and watched many YouTube videos on more of the product side of businesses.
But now that I’m providing more of a service, I had to learn more about client relations. I think being a teacher allows you to build relationships with people for the benefit of something else.
For example, as teachers, it’s important to build relationships with not only the students but the parents as well. There may be some things you don’t want to know about a family but it’s always helpful to know so you can leverage yourself in a way that both sides can feel comfortable.
What I’ve learned so far is that many of my clients are somewhat ready for that change and need more trust in the process. So building those relationships is crucial. Constant check-ins, providing several opportunities to work together, and creating a safe space.
As for marketing, my grad school taught me a lot about what I can do. I had to make trailers in iMovie, HTML, and flyers for some of the courses I took. When I got introduced to Canva, it was on and poppin!
I won’t say I’m a pro but technology doesn’t discourage me so I’m always looking for the latest trends and ways to help me better myself in this area.
What are some of the hottest “teacher styles” out right now? What’s IN?
With so much or little movement teachers or educators do on a daily their style can vary. If you are an elementary classroom teacher, it’s all about comfort. Having to keep up with students who are under the age of 10 requires lots of energized engagement. So for elementary, I would say anything with comfort and when we talk about movement, it’s shoes. So for educators in elementary, we want the cutest and most comfy shoes. I would say loafers are definitely in.
As for Middle school teachers, you have to demand respect so looking at the part of authority is a must! So I would say get a fashionable blazer. Blazers are so versatile and can be worn for both casual and professional. Students will respect you and you’ll look good teaching.
As for high school, you have to be cool and relatable. High school teachers can tend to be relaxed because the demand for movement is not as high. High school teachers are also the first representations of what to expect in a college atmosphere. College paraphernalia will be presented and the preppy look will always be in. So for high school teachers, I would say fake collars. Yes, you read that right. Fake collars give you the look of layering any top over a button-up blouse without the bulkiness of the blouse under the shirt of your choice. They can be worn under sweatshirts, dresses, and t-shirts.
Where are some of your favorite places to shop and look for new looks?
I love love love walking into good ole TJmaxx and Marshals. They always have the best clothes for a discounted price. HM and LOFT are next on the scale for when I’m shopping for items to wear to work. One of my favorite boutiques to shop at for the “weekend teacher” (teachers gotta have a life too) is a boutique called SugarPopped, based in Atlanta. As for online stores, I’ll go to ASOS, MISSGUIDED, and FashionNova.
What’s your favorite season for fashion and style, and why?
If I had to choose between my two favorites, Fall and Spring, it would have to be Fall. Fall allows me to layer clothes. I can be versatile in colors. I can be fully comfortable and bring the most fashionable boots out. Fall is the time I can pull out all the accessories to enhance my outfits; stockings, cute socks, scarves, and hats. Did I mention dark lips? Matte textures to be exact. I love to add this look to my makeup routine.
How do you feel about shoes??? – Can you give any tips for ways to introduce new shoe wear to the wardrobe for teachers who tend to stick to a signature look in footwear?
Shoes! My first love! I love shoes, I’m constantly rotating them out by the seasons while repairing, replacing, and revamping! When introducing new shoes to wear for teachers, I would recommend comfort first. As teachers, we are on our feet most of the day so comfort is a must. When I buy shoes I try them on before I buy them. I’ll keep them in the box until about a day or two before I want to wear them. That keeps them looking good and new. A couple of days before I decide to wear them I wear them around the house to get a feel for them. New shoes can sometimes hurt your feet so it wouldn’t be wise to wear them if your first time will have you on your feet for a long time. When t comes to moving away for your signature look I’d recommend not moving away too far.
If flats are your thing great! If you love wearing round toes, and ballerina flats I’d recommend keeping the flats but moving towards a more pointy toe look. It doesn’t have to be completely pointy but it can be a combination of the two, so more of an almond shape. The almond toe look gives your shoe a more adult professional look. Ballerina-style flats give me little girl style. So, if you are the one teaching by the board and not sitting at the desk move towards pointy toes flats.
If you’ve been wearing almond shape or more pointy shape shoes you can try a little heel. You can start with as low as 1 centimeter and move your way up. If heels intimidate you try platforms. They are leveled and they give you the height at the same time.
If you want to venture out to heels the rule of thumb is three to four inches for a professional look. Anything higher is looking like “weekend teacher”. I’d recommend chunky heels for elementary and as you are higher in the education field, middle school to high school, your heel can get skinner.
Boots are safe, the same rules apply to heels. Remember we always want to keep it professional because we teach in a professional environment. Thigh highs are out unless they are flat. Try to maintain their durability, if worn too often they can become loose and the look becomes more street style than professional.
How do you feel about ACCESSORIES??? – Can you give any tips for accessories teachers can look for that will last a lifetime in their wardrobe?
I love accessories! I think they make the outfits pop. A boring outfit can look more interesting with just a touch of accessories. When it comes to teacher accessories, skies the limits. We are teachers so we can be cheesy or as classy if we’d like. Earrings, bracelets, charms, lanyards, headbands, scarves, socks, glasses, necklaces, and nails can all be a part of our accessories. All these items can be classy as pearls and diamonds, silk, studded, and labeled. At the same time, they can be teacher-related. My favorite pair of earrings look like a school bus! I got these from Baublebar. Teachers are pretty loved so there is a place for us almost anywhere. Charms from Pandora, and lanyard from Coach. Headbands that are art-themed related and my favorite, Mickey Mouse ears. Scarves from Betsey Johnson and teacher socks from Amazon. Cute stylish socks can also be found from Shoe Candy. I get all my fashionable glasses from Zeelol and I love getting my nails done at the beginning of the school year with teacher-themed designs.
Did I mention shoes? I have a pair that looks like pencils and a marble notebook! These came from Groovebags.
You can never go wrong with these items and they will never go out of style!
Is there anything you have going on right now that we should know about? – How can we keep in touch with your updates and announcements?
Yes! I am hosting group styling sessions from now through the month of May. During these sessions, participants can come with one item of clothing from their closet and I will help them style with other items from their closet or recommend what will look good together. I also plan on doing another Instagram Live sale in May to close out the school year. This will be my second Live Sale and I’ll be selling items for a “Hot Teacher Summer”! I’ll soon be collaborating with some talented people to provide branding opportunities for those educators who are venturing out to work on their eduprenuership. I’ll be presenting a presentation for middle and high school students on how to look in the professional environment this June for a non-profit organization called Girls of Excellence. After that, I’ll be taking a break to bond with my newborn in July.
You can keep in touch by signing up for my newsletter on my site, www.thisstylishteacher.com. I upload helpful tips through the blog and share upcoming events right to your email. You can follow me on most social media platforms; Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok. @This_Stylish_Teacher