ESSENCE.COM: You have several collaborations going on right now –– Reebok, MataHari handbags and now with a major retailer, K-Mart. What makes a brand the right fit for a collaboration with you and why K-Mart?
MELODY EHSANI: I've had on-going collabs with NCLA nail wraps, MataHari handbags and Reebok. They're all brands that create products that I believe in. I usually choose partners to collab with based on the chance to learn a different process and work with specialists associated with that process. I recently did a spot for Kmart where I got to to come in as a designer and style a wardrobe using Kmart clothing, but it's not a collaboration.
ESSENCE.COM: Your designs are distinct. Your current collection is gold, gaudy and in-your-face. What was the inspiration?
EHSANI: I saw a hole in the market for the type of pieces I wanted to wear. I drew on inspirations from my past including a couple different major music eras, including Hip-Hop in the 80s. RnB in the 90s, the Michael Jackson/Janet Jackson/Madonna peak of pop era. Inspiration always evolves and blends with a number of elements.
ESSENCE.COM: You've accessorized everyone –– Beyonce, Lauryn Hill, Solange and Rihanna. Can you tell us one celeb you're dying to accessorize and what would their special piece look like?
EHSANI: I would love to make a piece for Michelle Obama. I think she's such a force and a very special emblem in society for women today, especially women of color. I wouldn't be able to tell you what her piece would look like, but it would be gold and include some sort of natural gemstone.
ESSENCE.COM: Budding designers want to know. How did you turn your passion into a business?
EHSANI: I simply followed my heart, every step of the way I had to fight the voices in my head and around me that told me that following my dream wasn't practical or realistic. I think there is a practical component to everything, you must weigh your dreams against reality but never lose sight of the goal. When you follow your heart and do what you love, magic happens. It's not crazy –– it's reality, yours.
ESSENCE.COM: What can we expect next from the Melody Ehsani brand?
EHSANI: I've been working on a clothing line with reebok and also in-house. I've also been developing some home accessories including light sconces, I'm very excited about the home goods! It's like jewelry for your house.