Niambi Davenport is on her way to the top as a designer. A junior at Clark Atlanta University, majoring in fashion, she has already started designing pieces for her family and friends. Davenport’s love for fashion began at an early age, noticing how fashionable her mother was. Davenport then came across the show “Project Runway” and realized that she too can design her own pieces.
Davenport says that the worst trend she was ever brought into were the cropped gaucho pants. She looks back now and wonders what was she thinking.
In a recent interview, she shared her love for fashion as well as how important it is to work for someone else before opening her own business.
What are you showcasing during your photo shoot?
I am showcasing the garment I made for the National Black Arts Festival. This outfit can go from classy to edgy and be worn on different occasions.
What about your other designs?
My other designs go through the same style of versatility. We are college students. We are always going places and trying to look real cute. My philosophy is making it versatile, easy and cute.
Do you wear your own designs and have you designed for any celebrities?
Yes, I do. I have created my own bodycon dresses. I have not designed for any celebrities but when I was leaving the National Black Arts Festival, a woman who works for PBS saw my outfit and really liked it. She then mentioned that she needed something to wear to the Emmys.
Do you charge for consultations?
I do not charge for consultations. My clients and I fabric shop together. This gives them the opportunity to see and feel the fabrics for themselves. I go to Fine Fabrics in Norcross, Georgia, and they are like family to me.
Did you do anything for prom this year? What was the trend?
I made prom dresses this year. It was a lot of hard work and I was tired but my clients were happy with their pieces and I was happy. Many girls for prom want to make a statement, want to be seen and want to be dramatic; however, the fitted dress trend is very popular. Many of my prom clients were ladies that I knew personally so I made sure that nothing was hanging out. I mainly use spandex.
If you had to categorize or put yourself in a box, what type of designer are you?
I am a designer who wants you to feel comfortable in what you are wearing. I want to make you feel beautiful or handsome. As a designer, my job is to make the customer feel happy.
What are the summer trends?
The short shorts, short dresses and gladiator boots. Crop tops are trending as well.
What is the best advice that you have ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is when you want to start a business, do not jump right to it. It’s best to work for someone else. You can make mistakes on their dime, but you don’t want to make them on your own. I found that to be important because while working for someone else, you can learn from them and learn from your mistakes. Another great piece of advice is that your failures are lessons that you learn from. You can always learn from your failures and make it better.
If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?
If I had an extra hour I would put it in between one and noon and use it for a nap because sleep is something that I do not get a lot of.
Do you travel a lot?
I live in Gwinnett County so I travel from there to class. Last semester, I would sleep in my car to get to class on time but my stepmom said that I should not do that anymore so I have to wake up very early to be in class on time. This summer I plan on studying abroad in Milan on a four week program at YED. I will be taking fashion design and learning different design techniques. In the past I have been to the Bahamas and I am Trinidadian so I have been to Trinidad to visit family.
Are any of your fashions inspired by your culture?
A couple of weeks ago, I made a swimsuit for my aunt with Trinidad’s flag on it.
What does your name mean?
Niambi Amira means beautiful queen.
To keep up with Niambi Davenport and her latest designs, she can be found on Instagram @iamniambi.
written by Jacinta Render, interview by Yvette Caslin
Styling Assistants: Javon Hurlock, Nadiyah Gulley
Photographers: Amani Fairweather, Asia Comans
Makeup and Hair: BJ Arnett, Nadiyah Gulley