Brandice Daniel: Providing a platform for black fashion designers

“When you're doing something that's bigger than yourself, the key is to not give up."
Illustration of Brandice Daniels.
Adriana Bellet / for NBC News

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By Natelegé Whaley

"She Thrives: Black Women Making History Today" puts the spotlight on 10 amazing individuals whose achievements transcend generations, occupations and regions. These women — all leaders in their communities — are truly elevating the conversation around black identity, politics and culture. Meet all of our "She Thrives" honorees here.

Name

Brandice Daniel

Title

Founder, Harlem’s Fashion Row

Age

41

Hometown

Memphis, Tenn. Lives in New York City

Words you live by

“Always ask. The answer could be yes or no. But if you don’t ask, the answer is automatically no.”

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Your hero

Lois. K. Alexander Lane, fashion designer who founded the Black Fashion Museum

How she thrives

Last September's New York Fashion Week was monumental for Brandice Daniel, the founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row. The platform — launched in 2007 to give voice to multicultural designers — celebrated NBA superstar LeBron James and Nike’s new signature LeBron 16 sneaker, which invoked the strength of African-American women.

To bring the shoe to life, Nike tapped Daniel who then enlisted three black female designers — Kimberly Goldson, Felisha Noel and Undra Celeste Duncan. The result was an all-white shoe with gold accents. The sneaker reportedly sold out in five minutes. The project was a game-changing example of authentic collaboration in fashion.

“The partnership for the designers was so incredible because it shows other brands the power of African-American women,” Daniel told NBCBLK. “It shows why brands need to pay more attention to this market and what can happen when you build something catering, respecting and honoring that market.”

Daniel views her work in line with the legacy of Lois. K. Alexander Lane, the founder of the Harlem Institute of Fashion in 1966 and the Black Fashion Museum in 1979. In 2008, Daniel read Lane’s book Blacks in the History of Fashion. Without her, Daniel says, a huge chunk of black history would be missing in fashion.

“Because of her, so many designs by people of color are preserved and are now in the Smithsonian African-American Museum,” Daniel said. “She did this in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I feel like I’ve taken off where she left off.”

2019 is full of opportunities for Daniel to continue this work. For instance, Harlem’s Fashion Row is launching a mentorship program for designers of color with IMG, the company that produces New York Fashion Week. Harlem’s Fashion Row is also honoring costume designer Ruth Carter, whose work in the movie "Black Panther" was nominated for an Oscar. And on Feb. 15, Harlem's Fashion Row will partner with Google for a summit that will bring together some of the brightest minds in fashion.

Daniel is excited about the future but mindful that her recent success is the result of patience and consistency.

“A lot of these opportunities did not come until we celebrated 10 years,” she said. “When you're doing something that's bigger than yourself, the key is to not give up. Things will get difficult, but keeping in the race is the only way to see all of these incredible opportunities come because you decided to stay.”

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