By Karyl J. Truesdale
In this new CFDA.com series, we explore the
Black Woman and her behind-the-scenes influence on the world of fashion, design, and beauty. The women we feature use their work as a form of creative expression, which they nurture with passion and purpose.
Claire Siobhan Sulmers. An innovator, Author, Harvard graduate and CEO of the popular fashion blog The Fashion Bomb Daily, Sulmers is a fashion industry force. She’s a Black girl magic success story. Comfort, ease, and privilege did not catapult her into this career. It was quite the opposite, and her determination prevailed.
Sulmers is a quintessential wild card, as she did not study fashion at her prestigious Ivy League alma mater. French and African American Studies was in her curriculum, and her astute disposition and sagacious business acumen shaped the trailblazer she has become.
Today, she counts over 2 million followers on social media, which is testament to the 15 years she has been building her media empire. Sulmers is by nature down to earth, and unflinchingly wants to remain inclusive and diverse in an industry that is working towards long overdue change.
You have single-handedly cornered the market as one of the most influential fashion bloggers to come of age and influence an entire culture. How did you come up with such an innovative idea to launch The Fashion Bomb Daily?
By doing all the right things. My background is in journalism, and I graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a degree in French and African American Studies. Within my African American Studies, I took a media course and I realized through those studies that there were imbalanced representations of people of color. Upon graduating, my primary goal was to obtain a career in media and lead the culture by conscripting a movement for Black excellence and Black girl magic. My inroad to fashion was quite difficult as I found myself working for a home magazine at Time Inc., although I knew ultimately working in fashion was my ground zero. I needed to pivot, so I consulted with a Human Resources rep who suggested I start a website. I took the advice, but the concept became stodgy to me, and I needed something more. My webmaster gave me the idea of a blog, and although it seemed risky at that time, I decided to go for it. I started Fashion Bomb Daily in 2006, and blogging was advanced at that particular time. Magazines were still the go-to, and periodicals like the now defunctHoney and Suede were the hottest on the stands for style and culture. I honestly started the blog as a resume builder, where I could show that I could write. My attempts at even trying to score an informational interview at a big publishing house was unsuccessful back then. I wanted the industry to take notice and see that I was a qualified journalist beyond just my published articles. And that’s how Fashion Bomb Daily got started.
What is Fashion Bomb Daily’s mission-vision-purpose?
Our mission-vision-purpose is to be the change we want to see in the world and to be reflective of the diversity and the beauty we see in the streets. To showcase dope fashion, regardless of race, socio-economic background, size, color, shape, and age. To be a beacon of light and positivity in the fashion industry.
As a full- time entrepreneur, what does your typical day look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day for me. Now that the world is opening again, my schedule involves a substantial amount of travel. I just returned from Paris Fashion Week, I also attended New York Fashion Week. Within hours of me landing from Paris, I went live with Kelly Clarkson, and the next day, I flew out to Cancun to speak at a women’s conference. I returned home to New York for two days, then off again to speak on a women’s empowerment panel. It’s refreshing to have days where I can go for my run, enjoy my home, post to Instagram, sit and have my meetings with my board or my investors, and just simply take time to write. Long story short, there is no typical day. Everyday is different and fruitful and eventful just as Fashion Bomb.
What was the biggest misconception you had of the fashion industry before you jump-started your career?
I felt because fashion is artistic, creative, and beautiful, it would be more open and kinder – simply because it is a creative expression, and it is such a small niche industry. I felt that there would be higher opportunities and did not expect it to be such an incommodious undertaking. I sincerely had hoped for a warmer reception.
What has been your strategy to engage with and further expand your audience?
I recently started working with a really amazing publicist, but I must say, all of our growth has been organic up until this point. We have been able to continue to grow because we focus on every aspect of fashion. Our profile on Instagram says it all: “We write about everything from the hood to haute couture.” This includes the profiles of The Real Housewives franchise, rappers, everyday men and women, models, A listers to Z listers, anybody who loves fashion and takes time and care in putting themselves together and stepping outside. Of course, if you feel confident and good in your own skin, it helps, but it is the cherry on top when someone else “sees” you. That acknowledgement means everything. On our site, you will find the daytime looks of The Real Housewives next to a Chanel runway show next to a montage of Beyonce or a post of Kate Middleton and the Royal family. We are a place where the community can come and find out the who and what people are wearing and everything fashion.
Do you imagine the reason for Fashion Bomb Daily’s success is due to your current strategy?
I would think it is because of that, yet also, we interact with our readers and respond to their questions. We feature them and give everyday people an opportunity to actively participate in the fashion industry. The traditional fashion industry is exclusive, and we are inclusive! That inclusivity is a huge part of our success.
What is something special about yourself that you can divulge that most people would not know about you?
I come from a family of fashion notables. My maternal grandfather, Haisley Newton, owned a tailor shop in Nassau, Bahamas – where he designed bespoke clothing. Aptly named Boog’s Master Touch, because he loved to dance the “Boogie Woogie.” My paternal grandmother, Odette Rigaud Sulmers, was a couturier, and my mother, Jennifer Newton, learned how to sew from my grandfather, and attended The High School of Fashion Industries here in New York City and can make anything under the sun. I come from a legacy of fashion and entrepreneurship, and I am very proud of that.
How would you describe your personal style?
Classic with a kick. I love a good blazer. One of my favorite brands is Balmain. I also love Sergio Hudson. Very clean, simple, and chic designs, but very powerful brands made for powerful women. I love to wear a well-made suit as I am always speaking. I most recently wore a favorite by designer Oyemwen, which can be found at our Fashion Bomb Daily shop. I am a curvy woman, but also somewhat conservative, so I would say classic silhouette with a little flourish. I’m not afraid to take an occasional risk!
If you could depict yourself in one word, what would it be?
PHOTOS BY DEREK BLANKS