Today we’d like to introduce you to Marley Skye.
Hi Marley, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I’ve always said I wanted to be a fashion designer since I was a kid, so I like to think I became the designer and stylist I am today by manifestation. At some point in my childhood, that dream of becoming a fashion designer got momentarily crushed. It wasn’t until my 2nd year of college at San Francisco State that I really discovered myself; I decided to take the leap and pursue my passion for interior design as my major – regardless of anyone else’s plans for me.
After I decided to make design my living, I moved back home to LA in 2019. I was freshly inspired and on the hunt for an interior design job, but also craving for that stylish part of me to be expressed more. One day while crafting with my bestie Delilah, I decided to make my own pasties; These pasties quickly turned into my small business known as Free Yourself in 2020.
While trying to grow my business and balancing college during the pandemic, I began working as a full-time freelance creative – assisting a fashion designer, gaining interior design commissions from peers, hosting art shows, selling at pop-ups, and teaching myself how to sew in between the chaos. I wanted to take my skills to the next level so I asked my dear friend Monie about production design and how to enter the film industry. With her advice, I started landing my own jobs quickly; And after PAing some gigs, I began making a better income and felt ready to expand Free Yourself.
I finally began to share my fashion designs with the world early this year. What started as a fun side business making pasties eventually turned into a growing fashion/lifestyle brand. Now I design and sew the clothes of my dreams to empower other women and the LGBTQ+ community. During this growth process, I also eventually landed my first wardrobe styling and art director jobs. Word has quickly spread; And I’ve truly fallen in love with styling others and making them feel confident. Right now, I’m focused on expanding my styling clients and taking Free Yourself to the next level of high fashion.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Making my dreams become a reality has definitely been a bumpy road to say the least. Some of my inner struggles along the way have been grief, family conflicts, heartbreak, and the intense pressure that capitalism puts on a freelance creative. These struggles have all put a strain on my mental health at various points of my journey and has caused me to put my dreams on pause for some periods of time.
Nonetheless, the things I once viewed as setbacks have turned into critical periods of growth for me as a woman and as an artist. I always come back stronger, more inspired, and ready to take on the world. Juggling multiple talents/professions can be extremely tough but at the end of the day, it’s a blessing. My art has motivated me to keep going and it has saved my life multiple times.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’ve shared the backstory of how I became the fashion designer and stylist I am today. But aside from my main income revolving around fashion, I also do set design, interior design, and event planning on the side. I would say that I specialize in “fun fashion.” I coined the term when I realized that I love designing and styling people in fun, colorful looks. The world is already dark enough, so you might as well live your life in colour!
I’m most proud of starting Free Yourself from nothing but my imagination. I’m proud that I’ve created a platform that inspires others to wear whatever they please – and feel confident/comfortable while doing so! I’m genuinely just here to sustain myself through my art, break the barriers of capitalism/big corp, and hopefully inspire others to do the same with their passions. I come from LA and I want to succeed in LA; In order to give my family everything they deserve, bring growth to my community, and allow other artists of color to reach larger heights.
What matters most to you?
What matters most to me is respect; Respect for women of color, respect for our planet, respect for original artists, and respect for our LA neighborhoods. Another thing that equally matters most to me is authenticity. It can be extremely hard to come across these two very important things in the fashion and film industries. I don’t come from money, my family is from (pre-gentrified) Highland Park, so it can be a culture shock seeing how glamorously fabricated the industry is.
To elaborate, people from all over the world come to LA to follow their dreams, and I’ve noticed that many transplants don’t really care who they step on or what they have to do to make those dreams happen. Most people who aren’t from here create a false LA image and don’t actually take the time to learn about (or help) the inner city communities and the POC who built them. A lot of people are also trying to get famous by stealing original ideas from smaller artists- that reality has always been a hard concept for me to digest. Since there’s so much of this toxic energy in the industry, when I meet people who share the same values of respect and authenticity, I hold them extremely close to my heart.
- Website: freeyourselfthelabel.com
- Instagram: @freeyourself.thelabel @_gnarlymarley
Photographers: Daniele Aquino @danieleaquino, Trin De @its_trin.de, Michael Borgers @borg.era, Robby Stevens @robby_content Stylist: Marley Skye @_gnarlymarley Designers: Marley Skye @freeyourself.thelabel, Elizabeth Cardenas @bedazzled_thong Creative Directors: Marley Skye @_gnarlymarley, Fontaine Foxworth @kickbackstandout Models: Skylar Boyd @omgskyy_, Crystal Ramirez @_xstal_, KK Love @kklove_ent, Alexis Whiley @preettyylexx, Aniyah Whiley @222Perfect_, Madison Riese @madisonriese, Pressa @pressa.armani, Chase McDaniel @chasemcdanielmusic MUAs: Norma Monterroza @makeupbynorma_, Niarah Stansberry @simplyniarah