Interview with Shara Johnson

As part of our Yellow Smile Day activities and going forward we are profiling some amazing young people and celebrating their achievements, meet the second in our series of interviews – Shara Johnson.

Shara Saf for Websitef

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Birmingham fashion designer Shara Johnson, is currently studying at London College of Fashion (LCF), 

Where did you discover your passion for fashion and design?one of the leading Universities of fashion education in the world. Ms. Johnson has showcased at many popular events such as Clothes Show Live, Midlands Young Fashion Designer Awards and The Touch of London Show, which she headlined. 

Now at 22 years old, Shara has designed for celebrities such as Lady Leshurr as well as interning for the likes of Victoria Beckham and Richard Nicholl. Take a look at what she had to say about her journey so far.

I always loved drawing and making things when I was little whether it was watching Art Attack, making a mother’s day card with stickers, glue and glitter, cutting a pair of jeans into shorts or doodling – I just loved being creative. My real love for fashion kicked in when I was about ten, my Godmother made couture wedding gowns and the most beautiful dresses; I used to go to her studio space and was just in awe of her drawings and what she’d made. I knew that I wanted to do the same one day.

You currently attend London College Of Fashion (LCF), one of the leading Universities of fashion education in the world. How have you capitalised on this opportunity?

Getting into London College of Fashion is one of the greatest achievements of my life, I remember when I received the letter telling me that I had got in and I jumped up and down screaming my head off. Attending LCF was a new experience that completely took me out of my comfort zone as I moved away from home, made new friends and my perspectives on fashion and design completely opened up.

The university has given me countless opportunities such as the experience of attending talk sessions with world renowned designers such as Ozwald Boateng. Another opportunity I had was being an extra on Sky Living Fashion Reality Tv show ‘Styled to Rock’, in April 2012.

To date you have had the privilege of interning for world renowned brands including Victoria Beckham and Richard Nicoll. How have these experiences enabled you to develop your skills?

The experience of interning at both Richard Nicoll and Victoria Beckham was enjoyable, challenging, intense, a constant lesson and amazing all at the same time.  I was always asking questions and I never stopped learning. You really don’t know what you’re made of until you are actually placed in the industry and you have to prove and show your skill set in such a fast paced environment.

But I rose to the occasion with confidence!  Even at times when I got things wrong, it didn’t deter me, I just did it again until I got things right. I learned a lot about myself and how much goes into making a fashion business successful.

How would you compare the fashion scene and creativity between Birmingham and London?

I think that there is just as much creativity in Birmingham as there is in London however in London everything just seems to be more out there and put on a platform for everyone to see.However the throng of talent in Birmingham is amazing and because I’ve been proactive in looking for things and events to go to, I now don’t think it’s a matter of comparing, I think it’s a matter of knowing how to exercise whatever environment you’re in. I do however think that the fashion scene in London is broader, many people in London dress as they please and are not afraid of being expressive!

Many of your designs have a sophisticated yet classy edge. Where or who do you draw inspiration from?

My inspiration for a design could come from anything but most of my inspiration for designs come from bright colours and I like my designs to celebrate a woman’s beauty from the inside out. I love looking at sunsets, tropical plants, flowers, tropical birds such as parrots, fish, pretty much anything with bright colour, I just think the world can be a very gloomy place, why not brighten up the place a bit?.

My favourite designers include Matthew Williamson, Nkensani Nkosi, Basso and Brooke and my favourite designer ever is Elie Saab, his designs are just breath taking.

You often hear the saying ‘fashion is a lifestyle’. Why do you believe it is important for people to take more consideration of how they present themselves?

First impressions are lasting; many people argue that fashion and clothes don’t define who you are, and they are right – they don’t, but what they do is they enhance a huge part and are reflective of you are and how you choose to represent yourself – you are essentially communicating to people without even having to speak.

Whether people like it or not fashion and garments and the message portrayed through them can be powerful, and society rely on certain elements of fashion to formulate an opinion of someone for example would you go to a job interview at a corporate company dressed in jeans and t –shirt? – no – you would go in smart attire to represent someone who means business.

What are your top three tips for aspiring fashion designers?

  1. Practice! I really would say practice, study and learn about your craft the more you practice the better you get. I think that a lot of people think that fashion is easy, wrong!, it can be hard work! But it won’t feel like work if you are doing what you love.
  2. Be true to who you are as a designer, but listen to constructive criticism. Not everyone will understand your vision but they don’t have to – that is why it is your vision. Although there are many designers we are all unique and that’s what makes us great – our differences.
  3. Believe in yourself and have patience, I don’t care how cliché it sounds Self-belief is paramount. Not everyone will believe in you which it’s why it is so important to believe in yourself. If you are good and you know you are when you put your mind to it you can achieve anything.

Yellow smile day will be held on the 22nd may 2013. The Chanel lee smile foundation will be using this day to look at the life, dreams, and vision of Chanel lee and pay attention to ‘the arts’ across the west midlands. What do you consider to be value of participation in the arts?

I think that the Yellow smile day is an amazing movement and the concept of encouraging young people within the arts to go after their dreams is great. Not everybody has parents or people around them who will understand, encourage and support them in what they are doing and therefore movements like this are needed for young people so that they can feel inspired towards success.

The arts in particular is important because the they are all based on creativity, passion, and most of the time people pour their feelings and who they are into it. The Chanel Lee ‘smile’ foundation reminds people that achieving your dreams are important and no matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for so we should ‘smile’.


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