by Staff Writer Britni Sharde
In the fashion industry, the aspects of style and culture are small pieces to a much larger puzzle. For artists that breathe creativity, like Serae Avance, fashion is more than the opportunity to look good. Fashion is power. “It’s power because it represents self as a form of expression, identity, personality and character. Fashion can have a spiritual or cultural meaning or both, while also speaking through color, texture and/or lighting. Fashion is a force of realness that has the ability to collide with modern or traditional culture. That realness, as basic as it is, impacts us every day.”
We got the opportunity to speak with Ms. Serae Avance, the founder, creative director and fashion photographer for Irie Blue Co., a digital consulting and marketing company. Irie Blue Co. unites companies with local creatives and artists through services including branding and networking events.
Sharde: What was the starting point of your desire to create opportunities in mass media for Black creatives?
Avance: I got the opportunity to see the art community in Boston. It really made me want to see my people on a different level. I recognized we didn’t really have the networking and necessary platforms for other artists to connect with one another where I come from. I saw those resources in Boston and people working together to create and saw that networking in itself was an opportunity to bring people together. When I look into a room, I think to myself, “How can I get these people to connect?” It’s so easy for people to get cliquish and not branch out. Tulsa can be clicky and, for a while, that’s just the way it was. I’ve become very intentional about connecting with others.
Sharde: How challenging is it to keep Black women at the forefront of your art and networking initiatives?
Avance: In the artist world, there are no boundaries. It became easy to network with people because people would come up to me and tell me they wanted to work with me. I am constantly remembering that I am still learning so much every day. Just putting myself out there has really helped me to get comfortable with networking. I start to get in my head a lot, but I think it’s easier to network as an artist than as an entrepreneur. I had to use social media as my search engine and all the people that I wanted to work with, I paid attention to their creativity and moved accordingly. Black women are so important to me. I grew up observing and admiring Black women, especially my momma. I believe we gotta be a lot more intentional about putting Black women on because Black women share so many parts of themselves with others and get nothing in return for it.
Sharde: How do you live out the mission of your brand?
Avance: The motto of my brand is “Be at irie with the blues life brings.” Honestly, this was an experiment for change. I had to ask myself, “How can I live a better life and remain happy?” Then I asked myself, “How can I help others do the same?” I’ve met a lot of people and a lot of people came to me with similar problems trying to figure out how to just live life better, you know. But now that motto is changing since I’ve updated my logo that takes inspiration from the Taijitu symbol, which is the original form of yin and yang, it’s all about obtaining balance between humanity and nature. With that in mind, I’m learning how to not only be at irie, but how to look at the blues as more of a tranquil state instead of a sadden state. It’s about finding the duality in Irie and Blues. With a background in chemistry, I’ve always been experimental. Therefore, my projects, brand and how I live my life are an experiment with living happily and helping others through my work. The mission of my work is connecting companies with creatives of any realm and industry. I live by this by being a point of contact for creatives and assisting them with reaching their goals. I aim to be that person to help other artists in reaching the goals they have in mind. Communism is the way up. We honestly can’t do this shit alone. Everybody needs help. We were put on this earth to help one another and move together in unison to everlasting life. My brand is spiritual and cultural at its core. Through events like Creative Souls and Empower Her, I build and bridge gaps in the community by making these connections. Everything I do has purpose. I honestly believe in sharing information, sharing what you’ve learned in order to grow. Leave that ladder down for the next to climb up. I’ve learned how to work with what I have to make something beautiful. I believe that all you have is what you need, and so with that being said, don’t feel like you can’t inquire about my services because a blessing may be waiting for you.
Sharde: What are some projects we can anticipate seeing from you in the near future?
Avance: It’s a lot (laughs)! Some of the current projects that’ll be released soon are “FEMININE = RIGHT,” highlighting hair stylists and female musical artists from Oklahoma. An exhibition of portraits is in the works for the Philbrook Museum called “From The Limitations of Now,” which will premiere in March of this year and go through September. This 6-month exposition will display some more personal projects showcasing my story and where I’m from. There are also three different projects involving Midwest culture and styling with Empower Her and a Creative Souls Winter series with SoBo Co. planned for this month. I am also working on a new project that is scheduled to take place in March with the Oklahoma Fashion District.
Sharde: How can we continue to support your businesses and where can we follow you on social media?
Avance: I am on Twitter and Facebook (@missirieblues). I can also be found by my name, Serae Avance. My business page on Instagram is @iriebluesco and my personal Instagram is @missirieblues. To view my work, check out the website where one can follow up on any upcoming projects and events.
Photo credit: Ryan Cass