ESSENCE: How did you connect with a megastar like Beyoncé so early in your career?

INGRID BURLEY: Beyoncé and I have a history that dates back to my childhood. Our mothers were best friends, and her sister, Solange, and I grew up together and are still close. After performing as a rap artist in Houston, I moved to New York to pursue my dream. Beyoncé saw the work I was putting in and gave me the opportunity to do some songwriting for her. A couple of years later, she offered me a deal.

ESSENCE: You’re from Houston. How does being southern inform your look?

I.B.: The laid-back feel of the South influences how I dress and carry myself. My goal is to be comfortable, but always fresh and stylish.

ESSENCE: Who are your fashion icons?

I.B.: My grandmothers Ola Mae and Ruth. Ola Mae wore trench coats a lot. I’ve inherited several of her trenches and love to dress up the way she did.

ESSENCE: You seem to enjoy wearing hats. Where do you score your headgear?

I.B.: I do love hats. I call them my “thinking caps.” My favorite milliner is Gladys Tamez. All her pieces are handmade and one of a kind. I like the feeling of rocking something you know no one else has.

ESSENCE: What would people be surprised to find in your closet?

I.B.: Prada pumps! But every girl needs a great pair of black pumps, so….

The article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of ESSENCE Magazine.

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