Today we’d like to introduce you to AKII .
AKII, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My love for fashion and costume design actually began with my dance career back in Miami, where I grew up training as a competitive dancer for about 17 years. I remember being at dance competitions with my team and while everyone was inspired by the other performances, I would be mesmerized by the beautiful costumes dancing together on stage. When I was younger I always had these visions of over the top extravagant gowns.
But with no actual training in garment construction, I would just sit in my room and deconstruct all of mine and my sister’s older costumes and remake them into the gowns I saw floating through my head!… Or at least as close to them as I could get with some safety pins and a threaded needle! After completing my “couture” gowns I would then style my younger sister (who against her will was always my number one model) and have her strut through the house in my self produced fashion shows! It wasn’t until after high school that I realized my actual passion was not for dance but in styling and costume design. Although it was very difficult for me to leave the dance scene, I had to make the decision to fully commit to my visions and give fashion a real chance to come into my life. So I immediately enrolled in design school at MIU. While I was in school, it was always some what of a struggle between me and my instructors who would constantly try to restrict my ideas and convince me to follow the standard rules of fashion. Me being a little hard headed and very stubborn, would repeatedly refuse to conform to the ideals they would see as the “norm”. (“Being normal is vastly overrated” – Debbie Reynolds). Although my mentors would say no, my peers would constantly cheer me on and usually had my back. So with their blessings I would stand in front of the class every week to present my collections that would grow increasingly larger than the box I was being put into. Shortly after MIU I was offered a random opportunity to move out to LA and within the month I packed up all my belongings, with 200 dollars in hand and took the next flight out to the city of dreams. Because I owed it to myself to try and make sense of the craziness running through my head. Finding the right path to becoming a fashion editor/ creative director isn’t easy, I have yet to be given “the rule book” on how to navigate your way to fashion success. So instead I just did what I always do and began to carve out my own road that in my heart I am convinced will take me exactly where I am meant to be. It has now been three years since moving out to lala land where I have been blessed to learn so much from inspiring mentors and peers, while also growing myself as an artist and really getting a clearer view of where I need to be! I have had the opportunity to work with increasingly amazing and visually creative individuals in the fashion world who constantly encourage me to push my limits and break through boundaries.
Chasing your dreams in any industry is usually pretty scary and never easy but with persistence and determination I have learned that anything truly worth achieving only becomes that much sweeter when you know that you have fully committed your heart and soul and given it everything you’ve got. My journey is no where near its end, and with everything that I have been able to learn I am so much more excited for the creative opportunities and events that are still to come into my life! I am a true believer in the idea that there will always be something more you can learn to help you grow and make you that much stronger at your craft. My life goal is to be able to inspire the world to not be afraid to express themselves whether it be through art or literature or which ever medium they are passionate about. Through my editorial stories I hope that I would be able to speak to people’s hearts and encourage freedom and individuality. I want to show that you shouldn’t be afraid to speak out and be yourself, nothing is more important to me than my creative freedom and I hope to express that through my art!
Has it been a smooth road?
I can’t say it has been perfectly smooth sailing and clear skies the entire time, but without the struggles there would be nothing to learn and you would not be able to truly appreciate your successes. Along with the everlasting struggle of just trying to navigate the industry and making sure to keep on the right track. One of my bigger shocks has been the simple act of moving cross country and leaving everyone behind to chase the dream I couldn’t get out of my head. In the time that I have lived away from home I have been able to really learn a lot about my self, who I am and who I need/want to be. As well as learning from the different types of people that I come in contact with everyday.
You have something to gain from every relationship good or bad. I’ve actually surprised myself with the will power and drive that I have within me to achieve my career goals. Being a tiny little bit of a “momma’s boy” I never would have thought that I’d be out here doing this alone! But through my family’s support I have been able to over come every obstacle that has tried to block the road and life I am eagerly trying to create.
Have you ever wanted to stop doing what you do and just start over?
There will always be discouraging moments in every part of your career, whether you are just starting out or at the top of your game. It could be something as small as forgetting to pack that amazing cape for your editorial or as big as getting turned down from that one gig you thought was the dream job. But when you are chasing your passions, quitting and going home is never a real thought that comes to mind. Nothing has ever given me the same feeling and thrill as when I am watching a beautiful image that I directed or styled come to life behind the camera! I can’t imagine myself doing anything else besides working in fashion and that final vision of me standing at the height of my career is what keeps me motivated and running towards my goal. I used to really bum out when I wouldn’t booked a job I was really trying hard for. But over time I’ve learned, and am still continuing to learn that whenever it seems like all the doors in your path are locked its time to start looking for a window to jump through. Where you end up on the other side is usually a more fitting outcome than the first door you were trying to unlock, without you even realizing it.
What advice do you wish to give to those thinking about pursuing a path similar to yours?
It may seem like sometimes things are moving to slow, or not going exactly the way you saw them play out in your head. But amazing things happen to those who practice patience. Staying focused on your end goal, being persistent in your actions, and having the drive to carry on through your disappointments are some of the keys to success. Practicing your craft as often as possible is very important, even if its just you and a camera putting together a shoot with your friends. It gives you the opportunity to be more inventive and creative, helps you figure out new and exciting ways to pull looks together. So one day when that big gig is presented to you, you’re ready and flowing with tons of ideas for any direction your client may need.
– Every shoot counts; a little test shoot that you put together, or a large budget production you were hired on. What you need is the experience and creative inspiration, that is something you can find anywhere if you’re really looking. Especially here in LA, opportunity is right around every corner!
* The first shoot I ever put together for my book was styled and shot by me, modeled by two of my friends Katrina & Terzy with hair/make-up done by my shaky hands, and wardrobe pulled from any closet I could sneak into!
Looking back at that shoot now is slightly embarrassing because my style has evolved so much, but I am still very proud of it because it was due to that shoot that I was able to land my first job and move to LA and it has helped open the door for me to continue pursuing my dream career!
Is there something you are particularly excited about or working towards?
I am really excited about the bigger scale jobs that will be coming my way. One of my dreams is to travel the world, going on tour with a recording artist as their costume designer would literally make me the happiest guy!
In the not so distant future I would love to be getting ready to open up my own styling firm, I can already see my self standing at the end of my office with a huge panel of windows and a beautiful view of Los Angeles!
- Website: NBTSTYLE.COM
- Phone: 786-266-8995
- Email: AKII.NBTSTYLE@GMAIL.COM
- Instagram: @AKII_NBTSTYLE
- Other: “NOTHING BUT TROUBLE” – FASHION STYLING, COSTUME DESIGN, CREATIVE DIRECTION-