Saved & Fly

Closet Runway

Closet Runway

JG. I am so excited to be here with the ladies of Closet Runway.

Closet: [Tami] We're excited too!

JG. This is actually my first interview with more than one person at a time, so bear with me as I try to record, write, and look at my questions at the same time.

Closet: [NeShea] It’s okay girl. Get your multi-task on! {laughter}

JG. Ok, so just for the record, I am at the Panera Bread in Alexandria, VA about to interview two fabulous business partners by the name of NeShea Jenifer and Tami Harrigan. Ladies, tell me how the two of you met.

Closet: [NeShea] We met through our church (Victory Christian Ministries International). I was the director of the wedding department at our church. I met Tami after she came aboard that department and we started talking at that point. And I asked you to help out with the wardrobe color coordinating for the wedding coordinators. [Tami] Oh yeah, right. It all just fit right together because although I hadn’t started my styling business yet, it was right up my alley so the friendship just blossomed from there. We did a lot of weddings together where I helped out with the wardrobe coordination.

JG. How did you start working together outside of the church realm within business?

Closet: [NeShea] I remember very clearly that Tami’s employer at the time had starting making some cut-backs and I was swamped having just started my business. So through us getting to know each other, I had come to respect her marketing expertise and asked if she could help me with that part of my business. We had a meeting to go over some logistics and she was so nice and open to helping since she wasn’t working at that time. [Tami] And the more time I spent helping with her business, the closer we got. We began to realize how much we had in common with things we wanted for our lives. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back into the workforce or start my own business as well. NeShea was a big encouragement for me to move forward with entrepreneurship. My husband agreed 100% and from that point, I’ve been working for myself.

JG. That’s beautiful.

Closet: [Tami] Yes. It was at that time that both of our love for fashion started to really become a focal point of our conversations. We decided to go with the flow and the Closet Runway partnership was born.

JG. I love that name. How did you come up with it?

Closet: [NeShea] The name Closet Runway was something that God put on my heart about three or four years ago. As a child growing up, I wore a lot of used clothes. I had to really learn how to look stylish while wearing those used clothes. It made my eye for fashion on point. I took it with me later in life. I always said that there was something special to the repurposed clothing element. Just because it’s not new doesn’t mean you can’t look your best wearing it. From there, Tami and I talked about featuring used clothing in a fashion show…mixed in with some new stuff, and the vision literally came out of the closet and came to life.

JG. That’s great ladies! How does this business tie into your faith as believers?

Closet: [Tami] A big part of this was that we wanted people to feel good about themselves. How a person looks and feels on the outside often times determines their attitude. Also whether people realize it or not, the show is very spiritually driven. From the music we play to the way everyone is treated, we make sure our Christian integrity is obvious. [NeShea] Oh yeah, obvious and very intentional that the spirit of God dwells there. We do Closet Runway with excellence because God deserves our best.

JG. How do you handle the people who may say that since it’s not held in a church, it’s not truly a Christian event?

Closet: [NeShea] We let God handle the nay-sayers. [Tami] People really have to start realizing that church is the body of Christ. So us…NeShea, you, and I are all the body and we are doing things to glorify God within and outside of the walls of the church.

Closet Runway

JG. I agree with you both 110%. I’m sure both of you have girls and teens in general who look up to you. Are you guys into mentoring?

Closet: [NeShea] I have been mentoring kids for years. I never felt the need to have an official title or haven’t necessarily worked for a mentor organization, but I have literally had other people’s kids live with me for periods of time to get them back on track. I am also a mother of four, so as a mother I am constantly in a leadership position where they are concerned and teach them to strive for their own best lives. Also, I’m hosting a camp this summer for young ladies between ten and seventeen years old. [Tami] I’m one of the leaders of the Youth Ministry at our church. I’ve always had a huge heart for the youth.

JG. What are your immediate and long term goals for Closet Runway?

Closet: [NeShea] Closet Runway is definitely an experience. It is a place where others can dream big. We put a spotlight on other entrepreneurs by allowing them to showcase their businesses and sell their products. Closet Runway creates a platform for Christian artists to use their gifts, while also featuring models of all shapes and sizes; giving them the opportunity to shine. So a main goal of Closet Runway is to continue challenging ourselves to introduce a new element of the company each time we showcase and continue supporting the dreams of others. We are also currently working on taking Closet Runway on the road to other cities.

JG. Wow! That sounds intriguing, different, interesting, and awesome.

Closet: [Tami] Thank you. We will continue to have our quarterly events here in the DC Metropolitan area, but in 2011, God is expanding our territory. The vision was already there to go on the road, but more and more of our friends outside of this area have been asking us when Closet Runway will be coming to their city because they know a lot of people who would love to come out to it. So going on the road is definitely a natural progression. [NeShea] Yes and we already have Chicago on the calendar for April and looking into more cities as we speak.

JG. Is there anything important both of you would like to say that I haven’t asked?

Closet: [NeShea] Just that it’s so important to us to stay connected to a solid body of Christ. My church and Pastors have been an integral force in my life for about fifteen-years. A lot of my growth and development has come from my connection to God’s word and the church. [Tami] NeShea hit it on the head. Connection is imperative. I am also constantly being fed the word through reading and also listening to CDs in the car. I just want to constantly have the Word of God in my spirit. Also, having a Christian network of friends, like NeShea and others. Surrounding yourself around other Christians is essential to connection. Christianity is a lifestyle for me.

JG. What do you say to people who are skeptics of Black women in business together? Like, I have come across people who feel that women are much too caddy for joint success. Oh, and what about haters? Experienced any of that from others?

Closet: - [Tami] Well, we are doing just fine together. {giggles} When it’s brought together by God, I don’t feel that that is an issue. If your aim is to glorify God, He will dot the i’s and cross the t’s. - [NeShea] And honestly, when you’re on a divine path, you don’t really even have an ear for the negativity because you’re so focused on what God has for you. Not everyone is going to support us, but it’s okay. People are watching, so it’s up to us to show people God dwells in the midst of this partnership and business overall.

JG. Wonderfully said ladies. When is the next Closet Runway show?

Closet: [Tami & NeShea] September 10th! [Tami] I’m so excited.

JG. Ok y’all, I have to go there. I’ve been asking this one a lot lately because it seems to evoke such emotion. Are you on team iPhone or Blackberry?

Closet: [NeShea] Blackberry right now. {laughter} [Tami] {sigh} I just made the switch…ordered my new iPhone today!

JG. Oh my goodness. Team Blackberry fans are going to be so mad at y’all!

Closet: [Tami] I know. I know. {laughter}

Closet Runway

JG. What is fun for Tami and NeShea?

Closet: [NeShea] I have kids so it’s never a dull moment for me. They keep me young and fun. [Tami] I love to travel.

JG. You ladies have been so much fun. It’s been a blast. Thank you being Saved & Fly Jesus Groupies! Any websites you want to shout out?

Closet: [NeShea] I rarely plug my “Day Of” event coordinating business, but it’s www.jwittevents.com [Tami] If you want to find out how to get your clothing on our runway or if you’re a model who wants in or if you just want to see what we do for yourself, please visit www.closetrunway.com. Also, feel free to reach me for personal styling services on www.exclusivelystyled.com

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