By Delfine Kernizan
From an early age, Claire Sulmers was empowered to create a seat where one wasn’t accessible to her. The editor in chief, speaker, author and influencer founded Fashion Bomb Daily in 2006, to promote diversity in an industry where the majority of the players are not people of color.
“I created Fashion Bomb Daily to highlight the beauty of diversity,” Sulmers said during last month’s National Action Network’s Women Empowerment and Networking Luncheon, where Rev. Al Sharpton recognized Sulmers for trailblazing accomplishments.
“I would look at fashion magazines and never see women who looked like me.”
Her inability to break into traditional fashion magazines led her to create her own, which has become the #1 multicultural, online fashion magazine. “In the spirit of women making it happen, I couldn’t find a seat at the table, so I created my own table.”
In 2017, Sulmers travelled to Haiti where she met with local artisans, designers, and factory workers. Haiti can be “the next fashion mecca, as far as production is concerned,” she said.
To jumpstart Haiti’s production growth, Sulmers would like to see designers who have done work in Haiti tap even further into the country’s resources. To name a few, her “Haitian brother,” Ouigi Theodore of The Brooklyn Circus, and Azede Jean Pierre, whom she referred to as “one of the greatest designers of our generation.”
“She needs support,” Sulmers said, identifying a key issue for many Haitians and Haitian-Americans in the arts. “Support of our people, support of sponsors, to really take her brand to the next level, I think.”
In addition to Azede Jean-Pierre, Sulmers cites Haitian fashion designer and blogger Claude Michelle and Haitian-Italian fashion brand Stella Jean, as some of her favorite style influences that speak to her personal style.
As one of the original influencers, Sulmers plans to continue creating her own table in fashion spaces where seats for women like her or that look like her do not exist. “We don’t have to answer to anyone but ourselves and the people who follow us.”
In creating her own table, Sulmers also plans to create seats for those who come after her, empowering the next generation to seek opportunities previously deemed out of reach.
“I’m very much about sharing information, being very pointed about uplifting people from my community and leading from a place of love. It’s not this whole exclusivity, snobby thing. I do believe that fashion is for everyone.”
For Sulmers, it’s important women of color are represented in mainstream media, particularly as it relates to fashion and recognizes that, more often than not, they are left to empower themselves.
“My Haitian father always instilled a very hard work ethic in me,” she said during her remarks at the luncheon. “He put himself through flight school, he’s one of the first African-American pilots in the country.”
She also noted Haiti’s accomplishments and struggles, and the ways in which the plight of her predecessors contributed to her work ethic and success.
“I honestly feel like I’m my ancestors wildest dreams,” she said. “Everything that they’ve been through and me being able to break into fashion in this way. I know that it’s from that fighting spirit. I feel them cheering me on.”
“Somehow she was able to take her digital print and set a style and an impact so people respond, and others tremble, when they know she’s writing about them,” Sharpton said of Sulmers. “She is an impeccable imprint in [the fashion] industry.”