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Rising Stars: Meet Jamielle Rankine-Kirlew

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jamielle Rankine-Kirlew.

Hi Jamielle, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I was born on the beautiful island of Jamaica and raised by my mother and her three (3) sisters. Ever since I was a little girl, I would sit at the top of our mango tree in the backyard and daydream about made-up stories and this made belief glamourous life. I was fascinated with storytelling and inspired by watching my aunts start their day with a head tie on and the elements of the day before on their faces; then when the evening came they would dress up and it was like goddesses entered the room. I learned then how clothing can elevate a woman and her spirit. That lesson stayed with me, and as the years went by and I got older, I used fashion as a way of expressing and recreating myself. My family eventually migrated to the United States when I was 18 years old, and I began styling jobs as I was still in love with the wonders of a good outfit.

I had a client who wanted a specific look that was impossible for me to find without designing it on my own, and the idea to begin sewing my own clothing began. I enrolled myself in a sewing class and learned the introductory of sewing. I then later enrolled myself at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and earned my degree in Fashion Design. In my final year at FIDM, we were tasked with creating a label and designs that represented said label. I titled my brand MUMA Africa. I wanted to create a collection that payed homage to my Jamaican roots. I later dropped the Africa and now my company goes by MUMA. I worked in the Fashion industry for a short time before hearing of an opportunity to enter a competition for minority-owned businesses to receive a $5000 loan towards their business at a very low-interest rate. I took my chance and pitched my business idea to a room of entrepreneurs, much like Shark Tank. Out of ten (1o) business ideas, MUMA placed first. I began building the brand; storytelling through fashion, connecting with amazing creatives and celebrities, and here we are today.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. I have failed and tried and failed again. I lost so much money not knowing what the heck I was doing and made some mistakes in my design choices and with clients that were difficult to please.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am the Founder, Creative Director and CEO of my clothing line, MUMA. MUMA is an ethically conscious, enthralling and handmade contemporary collection of clothing and accessories for women and men of all shapes and sizes. We have increased our size chart up to 5XL. We source sustainable materials and create eye-catching designs with a modern nudge to all cultures. You won’t find a MUMA design anywhere else and all at affordable prices. Our designs are minimalistic and sometimes bold and is meant to make you feel confident and secure. The name MUMA means Mother in Jamaican patios, and if you love your mama, you’ll love MUMA. “Art you wear ” is our tagline and it is very fitting. I am most proud of how far we’ve come. MUMA has been carried in C|Dobbs Boutique in the prestigious Corona Del Mar, and we have collaborated with the WACO Theater in LA to create an Ankara Fabric room for their Annual Gala, ran by Mrs. Tina Knowles and her husband Mr. Richard Lawson. Ms. Tina is the mother of Beyoncé Knowles Carter Working with Ms. Tina was such a learning experience. She is so hardworking and so nice even after all her success, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty and do what needs to be done and found that quite admirable. What sets me apart is that each design is made thoughtfully and with my bare hands. From the sourcing of materials to the sketches, pattern making, and sewing. Sometimes, even the photography and set design is all done by me.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Growing up, I loved dancing like no one was watching, singing at the top of my lungs Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls and the awesome Reggae Music of Jamaica like Bob Marley and Beenie Man. I loved sports like Track and Field and Netball. I was sports girl of the year at my elementary school and took part at a Jamaican Olympics in High school. I loved writing in my journal and storytelling. I would even play with the mop and the broom because I thought the mop had good hair. I loved making people laugh and I was a very sassy and quick with my mouth, that got me in a lot of trouble with my mother. I loved dressing up in my aunt’s clothes and heels when they weren’t home. I loved climbing my mango tree, I would be up there for hours singing and daydreaming. Ironically, I was also shy and terrified to speak in public but in small groups, I was usually the one everyone was looking at as I acted out a whole story of something that happened. All around fun, creative yet sometimes weird but lovable human.

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