Moonlighting Entrepreneur Scores With a Hip Tee

Wed., Mar. 23, 2011 11:38 AM EDT
by Zondra Hughes

Moonlighting typically refers to your second job, but for Chicago-area Web developer-graphic artist Shari Neal, moonlighting has led to her  second calling.

Neal is a new-school, urban entrepreneur; midstream in her career, she wanted to try something different, and she went for it. Neal longed to pursue her dreams in the apparel industry, and had designed T-shirts for others. This time around, she created Bon Bon Vie apparel for herself.

And the tee is a hit: Afrobella.com, and Clutchmagazine.com have both praised the “bold tees for the fearless, fly and fashionable.”

“I’ve always been an artist and a designer, and I felt like I needed a creative outlet,” Neal says. “I’ve always been into tee-shirts and Bon-Bon Vie was a natural thing for me to do.”

Neal’s debut tee is the Brown Skin Lady shirt. “It’s named after a song called “Brown Skin Lady,” from the group Black Star,” she explains.

Why did you chose the throwback design?

I’m 26 and I’ve always felt like I was born in the wrong era. I really love ‘70s music, and ‘70s culture. I recently went natural, two years ago.

How did you become involved in the apparel industry?

I really like clothes. I went to Whitney Young High School and I took sewing classes. When I was in college, I took few advanced design courses, and my mom likes to sew, too.

How did you come up with the name of your company, Bon Bon Vie?

“Bon Bon Vie” is a song by T.S. Monk. One of my friends introduced me to that song and I’ve always liked it. [“Bon Bon Vie,” (Gimme the Good Life) is a 1981 single from the album, House of Music. It was T.S. Monk's most successful crossover hit, as it made it to the R&B charts].

What is your best advice for anyone who wants to moonlight in the apparel industry?

Get some education, that doesn’t mean necessarily go to school, but there are so many resources, there [are] always fashion shows and events. And I read a lot. There are a lot of resources out there, use them.

To learn more, visit www.wearbonbonvie.com.

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