Known in the music industry as much more than “just a girl from Dyckman,” as she teased on her Instagram, Baroline Diaz is a widely respected figure in the music industry. From being the youngest female executive on the cover of XXL’s Hip-Hop Heavyweights issue to her outstanding work with artists such as Babyface Ray, DaBaby, and MoneyBagg Yo, Diaz has broken many industry molds at just the age of 27 years old. Now, Diaz is stepping into her fashion bag with the launch of her first clothing line in collaboration with Good American’s new initiative supporting emerging talent, Good Inc.

Diaz wrote passionately in an Instagram caption, “We wom[e]n have no LIMITATIONS to our Goals, Dreams & Aspirations. I will be a representative for all that is possible for my young girls from the Hood.” While the collection is slated to drop today, March 31st, fans of Baroline and the Good American brand were able to join the waitlist. In collaboration with Good Inc, Baroline will launch The B Project, which is described as “a new line that aims to empower women with fashion that affirms confidence, style, and a hustler’s spirit.”

The B Project includes six graphic-designed sweatshirts with pricing starting at $99. The collection features statements with messages meant to inspire and uplift women such as ‘Self Made Woman’ and ‘Female CEO’, fit for the iconic women across various industries featured in the premiere campaign. Women featured throughout the campaign include comedian Pretty Vee, President & CEO of Femme it Forward Heather Lowery, Owner & CEO of Milanodirouge Clothing Line Milan Rouge Harris, CEO of Topicals Olamide Olowe, and choreographer Tanisha Scott.

“Honestly, the idea to Good Inc was really about our commitment to champion inclusivity and representation in a business forum,” Good American CEO Emma Grede told ESSENCE. “What we want to do is empower the next generation of creatives and the next generation of businesses, but more than just in a way to produce products. It’s really about mentorship, shared resources, and exposure. What we really want to do is give everybody a platform to share their products through these capsule collections. More than that is to really lift them up and show them the way, how we work, and how they might be able to start their businesses.”

Grede, who is also featured in the campaign, expressed her excitement for not only the launch of the collection but working with Diaz, who she noted as a dear friend of hers. “I couldn’t be more happy that Baroline’s the first person that we’ve been able to do this with because she’s a personal friend and somebody that has such incredible energy and such amazing ideas,” she praised of Diaz.

Take a peek at our conversation with Diaz and Grede ahead of the collaboration launch about the inspiration, how the partnership came about, and how Diaz’s love for music is translated into her day-to-day style.

ESSENCE: Emma, what made Baroline the perfect collaborator for this project?

Emma Grede: It’s so interesting because the way we came together was through really me seeing what Baroline was trying to do herself and knowing that I could help. With any of these things, it is about finding where it’s mutually beneficial. With the idea of two people coming together, you don’t want it to be unevenly weighted. I knew that Baroline had something really special, but I also knew that we could really help her from a production and manufacturing point of view. I have the resources to actually pick up where she’s left off, and that’s what makes her a perfect partner – that we were really able to come to the table with something beyond just saying, “Hey, let us like sales and sweatshirts together.” It was much broader than that.

ESSENCE: Baroline, why did you decide to launch this collection towards the end of Women’s History Month?

Baroline Diaz: We have been working on it since October and I kept saying, “Women’s history month,” but I feel like Women’s History Month is the only time where you allow women to get acknowledged. It’s like every company just wants to acknowledge women this month. I feel like Women’s History Month is not a month thing; it’s all year round. It’s all about women and empowering the next set of women to be the next future executive bosses. I feel like this is the time to be a boss. I’ve seen an article recently that said, “the girl boss is dead,” and I’m like, no, it’s not. I don’t know who is messaging that, but it’s a time to get your own money, to be a boss, to be a leader. That’s what this campaign is about. I want to walk [into] a room and I want somebody to know who I am when I’m speaking because I get judged by my attitude or when I’m assertive. I want you to know who I am when you see me and me wearing it on my sweatshirt.

ESSENCE: What are some of your personal favorites from The B Project x Good Inc collaboration?

Diaz: My favorite piece is the ‘Self-Made Woman’ because that was the original piece. It was actually supposed to be in the back, and then when Emma wore it and walked around the office, everybody was like, “Man I like that sweater.” And I really like ‘Powerful Fucking Woman’ because I feel like I’m the definition of a powerful woman and I added the curse because I’m always cursing. Instead of the exact ‘fucking,’ we put a heart in the ‘U,’ but it’s a special collection. I remember me and my best friend were just talking about the day that I was like, “Yo, I want to have a sweatshirt that just says who I am when I walk in the room.” When we got the first order, I’m like, “This looks whack. Ain’t nobody buying this. I don’t want to sell this shit.”

I didn’t even really have the money to do it when I did it. I was just like, “Let me post this and see if people like it,” and then everybody started hitting me up about it. First, Emma commented on my post, which was like a mood board type of post, and she was like, “I’m going to buy all of these.” Then she DM’d me and she was like, “Can I sell these for you?” I’m like, “Hell yeah, you can, girl!” I swear to God, the next week we was there and she introduced me to Melissa, who I adore. She’s like a big sister now. They taught me about fabric, making fast decisions, stitching, and how things are supposed to look.

That’s amazing because they could have just been like, “We’re going to take your idea and this is what we’re going to do,” but they included me in everything and I feel like every single person at Good American is like my family now. I’m not even just boasting, I’ll do whatever they want me to because I could depend on them. What they took me into was like a mentorship. It was not like, “We’re going to take your idea” because sometimes these businesses do that. They take Black designers’ or young people’s ideas and they just steal them, but they were like, “No, we’re going to mentor you. We ‘re going to build the team around you.” It has been amazing. I don’t want to leave them. I’m about to go quit my job and work at Good American.`

ESSENCE: Tell me a bit about The B. Project and how it ties into the Good American collaboration.

Diaz: Melissa, who works at Good American, actually named it wrong on the paper and I was like, “That shit’s fire,” so then I just took it. I really want to make it an initiative to help young women like me because I really stand on being a young woman from the hood. I’m from New York, Washington Heights. I really could have been pregnant right now, being a mom having a bunch of kids. That’s the standard and stereotype things that they say about a woman from my neighborhood and in my culture, but I’ve beat it. I’ve always been a person of, “I’m going to get it. I’m going to be the greatest person I can [be]. I’m going to make decisions. I’m not going to take no for an answer.” I want to take young girls from those neighborhoods and teach them that there’s more to life than the stereotypical things that are said about us.

I want to get money and give it to girls that want to build programs. Let’s say it is $2,000 to two girls a year – something that can help them get mentorship and internships. I want it to make a big initiative of this. It’s not just about me. It’s about me creating the next Baroline, the next Emma, or the next woman that’s going to change the world. It was just an idea, but now it’s an initiative to help the next generation of girl bosses.

Grede: Honestly, that’s why we really love working with Baroline because she had such a big-picture idea. In the beginning, it looked like it was graphics and sweatshirts, but in the first meeting that we had with her, she spoke to us about what type of person she is, why this is so important for her, and why this is so important for her group – and that’s our customer. Our customer is a girl that has big ideas, that has big aspirations, big ambitions, and she wants to do well for herself. We feel like uplifting somebody like Baroline to do what she’s really capable of is really just showing girls out there that you can do it. The opportunities are we’re going to make the opportunities available for people, and we love the fact that Baroline is where this whole thing has started.

Diaz: Yeah, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Emma has a story of what she had to do in her struggles and I have a story. I feel like now in the society that we’re in with social media, you only see the amazing things. Nobody posts their struggles. Nobody posts how long it takes to get here. Emma did not become who she is overnight. I didn’t become who I am overnight, so I feel like it’s up to us to teach women, educate them on how you become a leader. It’s not about being a boss. It’s about being a leader and educating them. You want to have leadership, you want to have confidence. What’s right and what’s wrong, I feel like still to this day as an executive, I’m learning. I’m not perfect. I’m sure Emma could say that there are things that sometimes she’s not good at, or she may not do correctly, but she learns from it. I feel like we’re all learning everything. It’s up to us to help the next generation and I think that we’re going to make it happen. Emma, somebody that I trust, I could call her and say, “Hey, I got an idea,” and she’ll be there to support me.

ESSENCE: Why is it so important to continue to champion the voices of women – especially women of color and Black women – in music and fashion?

Diaz: From the music standpoint, it’s a male-dominated industry. When I walk into the studio, I’m always the only woman. I could be considered the hoe, the bitch, the side girl – never the boss. I’m the one that’s making the decisions, but people don’t know because of how my body is shaped and what I may wear. I want to make it so people know women are able to be producers, the artists, the president of the label – and not just the co-president. Now is the time to show that women dominate any field that they’re in.

I’m getting familiar with the fashion part, but in the music industry, I need more women involved. I need to see more producers, engineers, executives – we need to grow. I tell my artists all the time, “I want you to use this female engineer and you need to respect her when she walks in the room, she’s not a piece of…she’s a woman. You have to treat her like you would treat your daughter.” I’m all about women’s empowerment because I know how hard it is to be a woman and how hard it is to get respected. I really want to protect women and to make sure I empower them as much as possible.

Grede: Just to add to that, for Good American, it’s so important to continue to uplift Black women, women of color, and underrepresented female groups, especially because there are so few opportunities out there when it comes to funding to actually help women get their businesses off the ground. We know that Black women are starting more businesses than any other group out there and yet when it comes to a funding conversation, they are the least funded group. When we have an opportunity and a platform, where we’re actually able to have an impact to help people, that’s exactly what we should be doing. We really see it as more of just part of the fabric of what we do because we’re able to do it.

It’s just been the fact that it’s been so much fun with Baroline. It really was the most incredible day, but for me, it’s much bigger than that. If you can start something like this, you are giving people the opportunity to get out there, to raise awareness for them to actually utilize your own resources. With our massive community that we have and that helps Baroline have the resources that she needs to succeed, I don’t what can be much better than that? What story, what legacy be better?

ESSENCE: Baroline, how would you that your personal relationship with and love for music influence your day-to-day style?

Diaz: A little YSL, a little Nike – I ain’t no stylish girl but I know how to look fly. Over five females, like top presidents of labels, have hit me up [including] Ethiopia [Habtemariam], who’s one of the biggest at Motown. She said, “Baroline, I only wear Good American jeans.” LaTrice [Burnette], who’s the president at Def Jam Records, says she only wears Good American. The thing about Good American is that they fit everybody’s size. I’m a big girl and I got the booty and all of that and with Good Americans, they slide right in. We’re about to make it the official jean to the girl bosses in music ’cause everybody is telling me how much they love Good American.

ESSENCE: Emma, how would you say that Baroline’s relationship with music is reflected in the collection?

Grede: When you think about the campaign, I’m just going to be honest. We have nothing to do with it – all we did was show up and paid for it. Baroline put together an impressive group of women that you could imagine, from Pretty Vee to Heather Lowery to Tanisha Scott. There were so many incredible women in this campaign and that was all influenced by her time in the industry, from the people that loved her, the people that want to pay respect, and a march to what she’s doing. Everybody jumped on board. We’re always working with different talent in my businesses and you might have a little bit of pushback, but people just jumped on board. In the end, we had to limit our numbers ’cause how can we shoot like 17 women in one studio in one day?

That just says so much about a person, the goodwill that they’re cultivating through their career, and who they are. That to me just speaks so deeply, the fact that everyone wants to come out and support Baroline and be beside her, just speaks absolute volumes. I don’t know how many people can wrangle that type of crowd and then that type of energy. Baroline’s right – it was a really special moment. We were on set crying one minute, excited the next minute, sweating it like the whole thing was like the moment magical day. My teammates are literally like, “How do we work with Baroline forever and ever?” They never want us to leave the office.

Diaz: What’s crazy is that they say, “Women are catty. Women are bitches.” No, we get along. I swear to God, there was not one person that complained and everyone was so happy to be there. The messages that I received after people were crying were emotional. We’ve never been in something like that. It was a very powerful moment, it was amazing and hopefully, this could become something that we do yearly to empower women for Women’s History Month.

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