Brooke Journey is a brand providing custom designs and affordable fashion apparel for the everyday woman to feel confident in.
LUXE Kurves: Why did you become a fashion designer and what is your favorite part?
Tatiana Castro: I think the creativity is my favorite part. I became a designer because I like unique items and unique clothes which are hard to find in stores. I also used model for a long time and I enjoyed the behind the scenes part of the fashion industry. My mom used to sew as well and she taught me so I’ve been sewing and creating since I was young. I’ve always been really intrigued by the creativity in the industry because I’m really artistic and I enjoy nurturing that..
LK: Who are some of your favorite designers?
TC: I love Versace only because he’s very unique in his patterns and prints and I really love prints. I enjoyed watching his line develop. I also like a lot of independent designers because they are very creative and are at the early stages of developing their creativity. So you see a lot of raw and uncut designs that you won’t really see in the big brand name stores. I like Tracy Reese. I like her comeback and admire her for going out there trying it once and trying it again with a successful line. I like Diane von Fürstenberg’s wrap dresses. I’m obsessed with those – they are wonderful for curvy girls. Those are my main three favorite designers.
LK: How did you come up with the name for your brand?
TC: I wanted to have a unique name and I love the name Brooke. It sounds very solid, like a solid foundation. Journey because the creativity – every twist and turn takes me on a new lead or a new path and ultimately it is a journey.
LK: Describe your creative process, how you come up with a new collection?
TC: Well, most of the time I just go in to fabric stores first and look at the different fabrics. When I see a fabric that catches my eye, I start imagining things. Would this look good as a dress, or would this be nice in pants? Could this be a jacket? I want to see how long I can stretch the collection with just that one fabric. Sometimes it works for 2 items and sometimes it grows to 8. So when it gets to 8 pieces I know that this fabric will look good in all elements. So I start my creative process with the fabric as a flat board.
LK: How do you make current trends your own?
I look at my styles and they are very simple. Most successful designers have very simple designs.
TC: A lot of the time you take the trends for what it is and say “hey how can I put my twist on things that everyone loves to wear”. Ultimately, I like to stay away from trends. I set my own trends and dare to be different. You have to try different stuff that may not be a trend at the moment. Brooke Journey is the subtle classiness of a simple twist here, or an added neckline there, and a reduced hemline here – that gives you a whole new flare. I look at my styles and they are very simple. Most successful designers have very simple designs. Why? Because you want to have staple pieces. You don’t want to spend all this money on designer pieces and then they are never in season again or out of style after a couple of months. So with Brooke Journey I create a line of value so that you are able to keep everything in its mist. So ten years from now you can still wear Brooke Journey because the styles are timeless.
LK: What type of woman wears your designs?
TC: My designs are for the everyday woman – a woman that loves to take control of her femininity. My designs are for anyone who wants to have that nice polished, classic look. I don’t make a ton of provocative stuff; I like to keep it chic. A lot of curvy girls like wearing my designs due to the fabrics that I use because they are very comfortable. I do make clothing for the curvy woman because, I myself am curvy. It is hard to find stuff that is small in the waist and wider in other areas, so its really nice to be able to have that balance where my clothes works for the curvy woman but also all body shapes.
LK: What is your definition of fashion?
TC: My definition of fashion is to be your own icon, be yourself and create your own brand. Your brand should be who you are as a person. It’s your creativity and style that you wear which represents who you are. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to dress; I just think that people get so caught up with what society accepts that they miss sight of what’s most important which is being themselves and not being like everyone else.
LK: How would you describe your personal style?
TC: I kind of just put things on based on how I feel and see how they look. I can be mix-matchy or matchy-matchy. It just really depends on where I am at for the day. I could wake up feeling sunny and flowery and a lot of the time I will wake up feeling calm and chill and that’s how I want to dress. My style can go from rocker-chic to boho-chic to sleek, mix-matchy and flamboyant. It just really depends on how I am feeling in that moment. I really like being unique, different and setting myself apart. When you become everyone else, you blend in and it’s hard to be noticeable when that happens.
LK: What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
TC: Stay organized! Make a plan and stay organized because it can get really crazy. Take classes – I still go to sewing classes just to learn new techniques. Invest in proper equipment. Becoming a designer is a big investment and expense. I am also a seamstress and I make my own clothes, sketches and cutting. Being that I do all the labor it can be difficult at times and it’s taxing to the body – but it’s worth it. So know that it will be a challenging journey but you have to do what you love.
LK: Tell me about your most successful or happiest moment as a designer?
To have that moment with the other designers where there is no shade, no negativity – just love, peace, harmony and everyone getting the job done.
TC: Well as a designer, I want to say that my most successful moment was recently when I went to Atlanta and I was a part of the Walk Atlanta Fashion Show. Being a part of this show really showed me how much I have developed as a designer – as far as putting a collection together. I also had a great team that came out and supported me. A fellow designer Phoenyx Reign came out with April, her photographer, Porsche, her stylist, and Byron. He helped out in the back and was amazing. We really showed a united front of three designers coming out just to support me and it felt great! To have that moment with the other designers where there is no shade, no negativity – just love, peace, harmony and everyone getting the job done. Again, we had several different sized models from plus size to straight size. All the different models looked beautiful walking down the runway and it was just an amazing experience.
LK: How does it feel as a designer to see your creations walking the runway?
TC: It’s a beautiful thing you know because you always want to see your creations out there. However, each time you see your own designs on the runway you want to take it to the next level. You want to see your collections on a bigger runway or a bigger platform. It really motivates you to keep going and creating until you get to that next level. It’s inspired me to keep pushing and opening doors. I want to see Brooke Journey at New York Fashion Week and Paris. I want to make those things happen for a multi-raced African America woman, I want to see our stuff out there. I want to see it done.
LK: What is the most challenging part of being a designer?
TC: Most challenging part is becoming discovered and getting people to notice your brand in a world full of people who are creative. It’s a really hard market and it’s hard to get into it. It can be scary at times but you just got to keep pushing forward.
LK: What inspires you when working on a collection?
TC: What inspires me is to know that when those pieces sell and are out in the world, I have blessed someone with a happy day. A lot of times I see the confidence in a women when she wears Brook Journey, it really shows their figure. Brooke Journey is able to give the illusion of giving you your shape back and you forget about something that you may have been insecure about.
LK: What is your take on the plus size industry?
I think that the plus size industry has grown and been discovered.
TC: I think that the plus size industry has grown and been discovered. We have made our mark, and let it be known we are here and we don’t have to be cosmetically fixed to be accepted. I don’t feel like we need to glorify being like everyone else. The uniqueness of a plus size woman is beautiful. The plus size industry accepts all bodies whether your tall, petite athletic or curvy, but we have to remember there’s a fine line between plus size and being overweight.
I want all the girls to know it is a lifestyle but you still need to be healthy and take care of yourself. There is a fine line and there are still standards for all women. I am plus size myself and I understand these standards. From being in the modeling industry for a long time I know that there are a lot of elements to it and the fashion industry can be hurtful. I believe that we are taking our voice back and it’s an opening for us to say “here I am and we are here to stay”. There is nothing society can do to take that away from us and get us to change who we are. I think that the plus size industry shows health, wealth, joy, prosperity and love. Brooke Journey makes clothing for all body types, whether you’re plus size, petite or thin, you don’t need to starve to be on this runway, you just have to be yourself and that is more valuable than anything else in the world.
LK: Starting off as a model – did that help you with designing?
TC: I’ve always been creative but it showed me the world. It helped me to understand and identify how cruel that world can be and how hard it is. It is easy to go out there and model, but it’s hard to become a successful model and it’s even harder to become a successful designer in a world full of big wig designers that don’t want you there. If they feel threatened by you they will make sure you disappear. It is really hard for up and coming independent designers to show up and be like “Hi – I’m here with these rocking kick ass designs”, excuse my French. I took some fashion classes and learned about some heavy hitters [designers] finding designs and looks online. They look at independent designer’s blogs and sites and see these different urban chic looks and get ideas from there and create masterpieces.
LK: If you could start over would you do anything differently?
TC: I would pace myself and be more organized in the beginning but sometimes you just got to take a risk and get out there. So I guess not, you have to take a leap of faith and I did. I mean you got to do what you love!
LK: Tell us about your role as Creative/Fashion Director for LUXE Kurves?
It’s pretty awesome. It gives me the chance to take a break from designing and put on my mogul hat. I’ve always had an eye for photography, although I am not the one behind the camera. This role allows me to display beautiful things and story tell through photographs. It gives me the ability on that creative side to not be the designer, but to design art in a picture. It’s a pretty great experience. I love fashion and taking things to the next level and being outside the box. Being the Creative Director gives me that opportunity to create magic on the set with different ideals and thought processes.
LK: When can we expect a new collection?
TC: I am actually working on that right now! It will definitely be at LUXE Kurves Fashion Week and it will be a preview into the fall collection with a couple of surprises!
Be sure to keep an eye out for Brooke Journey’s upcoming collection that will be featured at the LUXE Kurves Fashion show – you don’t want to miss the surprises Tatiana has in store for us!