Off the Record Episode 3: Randijah Simmons
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
Since middle school, I started selling clothes but at the time it didn't occur to me that I was being an entrepreneur. Me and my friends used to distress shorts with studs when that was really big and sell t-shirts and [our classmates] would actually buy them. We were making money, but it was just something we were doing for fun.
When it was time to apply to colleges, my mom suggested LATTC. I went into Fashion Merchandising not knowing exactly what it was but it turned out to be the business aspect of fashion, so that's how I started my businesss.
What was the process like creating your own online business?
A part of a project we had in school was creating a business. All of the business [aspects]--from money to retail and advertisement, so as I was doing the project I realized this was something that I could actually do. That part was easy, but once I started [my own business] it became a little more difficult just learning more about all the technical things.
How did you deal with funding?
The way I funded my business in the beginning was through my financial aid. I was getting money and I would literally buy more clothes or take [it] to invest in my business.
How would you describe Sybergurl in three words?
Girl. Gang. Fashion.
I fell like the things that I make or even the things that I buy for wholesale, ultimately, I want girls to feel good in. So, either it has to have a message portraying girl power or it needs to be something that makes you feel good when you wear it.
I started Sybergurl in 2014, but I didn't take it serious until 2016. When I first started it, I didn't know what direction I wanted to go in. [Then] I did this one collection--it was this shoot and I had a shirt that said "Girls Do it Better" and my friend was hanging from the top of [something]. Once I did that, I was like I kinda want this to be the aspect of everything. I'm a woman and I want to represent women. I've always been pretty outspoken person whether it's through fashion or even me talking. I just need girls to feel good when they wear it. It's kind of like a cult thing.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your career?
The biggest challenges I've faced so far have been funding and just believing in my myself and my ideas. Anything you're doing that's creative or [as] an entrepreneur is a risk and you have to trust yourself and I think that's something that I've struggled with--trusting my ideas and knowing if this is going to work or not and not giving up on it.
WHAT IS A TIME YOU FAILED? WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
The first time I failed was the year after I started my brand, I kind of stopped. I stopped for a whole year kind of just because of life and not trusting myself. It's hard when money is not coming in and you're not getting sales, you tend to put yourself down. So, I let that get to me and I feel like that's been a setback and one of that failures, but I've learned from it.
I just picked it back up and kept going. Even now when I feel like something is going wrong, or if a shoot's not happening how I plan it, or people flake, I'm like, what's next? How can I get this done instead of laying down on the bed and saying eff this?
Do You Think Being a model and also a photographer help you figure out the types of shots that you want?
I think it helps a little, not as far as when I model, but I know how I like myself to look in pictures so I think it helps with perspective and figuring out what I want the model to do.
What motivates you?
The final process of me making something happen or seeing that I was able to do something motivates me to do more. So, especially with shooting, if I have something in mind and I make it come to life and I do the shoot and, usually, it comes out better than expected, then I want to just keep going.
Also seeing the women who are entrepreneurs living in their truth and my friends who are very supportive, they all motivate me.
WHAT ASPECTS OF YOUR WORK GIVE YOU THE MOST JOY? WHY?
Shooting products. Being able to create thes concept and come up with this product and put it out. I put so much into what I sell and the things that I design so when people buy it and they genuinely like it and it genuinely makes them feel a certain type of way, I think that's what I enjoy the most.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING DIFFERENT MODELS FOR YOUR SHOOTS?
Honestly, I don't look for any specific thing. If I feel like they fit the concept or sometimes I see a girl and I [know I] need to shoot her. I know being a model now, you have to be a certain height, a certain weight and I don't look for that. Either they're doing something cool and I want to show [them] in a different light or I just literally love how they look.
NAME A HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR
It was pretty cool to be featured on Nylon Magazine because that was one of the magazines I would collect when I was younger. I was crazy about it. And their editorial were always good so I always wanted to work for [them].
I feel like some people do things, especially now, just to go viral or just to be seen and I feel like the work I put out is genuine and it's because I actually want to do it. [Nylon] is where I wanted to go and then they're actually featuring me, so it's just kind of reassuring that I'm doing something right, especially since I'm very hard on myself with everything. It was a guide of who to shop, but the fact that they saw that--you know they see other things--so you never know who's watching.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Don't you ever stop! If it's your passion, it's always going to be with you and you're always going to end up doing it. People are going to come into your life and tell you what to do and which direction to go, but you need to use those people to help you go in the direction YOU want to go instead of them dictating which direction you go.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue entrepreneurship/photography/modeling?
Always keep going. Don't beat yourself up about things and learn how to adapt because things are always changing. You're going to have to learn how to adapt as your market grows, and people grow and you grow. Figure it out and do research--the internet, books wherever you can and just learn it.