Maxie James, the owner of fashion line Ella Lisque, consulting company Self Made Boss Babe, and Los Angeles-based store Style House by MJ, is a woman who not only works hard to see her own businesses flourish, but also pushes those around her to do the same. Through her consulting company, James leads branding assessments for those who are either having trouble finding a career that includes their passion or already have existing brands and are looking to take their company to the next level.
Who is Maxie James?
I’m from Inglewood, and I’m 30 years old. I’ve been designing for about three years now and I have three businesses. So, I have my clothing line (Ella Lisque), and my store (Style House by MJ), and then I have a consulting business (Self Made Boss Babe), where I do one-on-one consultations with women who are up-and-coming designers, boutique owners, etc. One of the things I do through my consulting company is brand assessments for those who don’t know how to find their passion and trying to figure it out, or for people who already have brands and are trying to figure out how to grow their company.
What is one thing you think all aspiring entrepreneurs should know before launching a business?
A lot of people think that starting the business is the hardest part, and it’s not. Once they get started, they’ll find out that that’s actually the breeze and figuring out how to keep your business relevant, and going successfully is the hard part. Don’t give up, though. When it gets hard is when you should go even harder.
What is the one personal trait that you believe is most valuable to your brand?
I always keep it one hundred. All my followers love my transparency, and that’s what influenced me to want to start my consulting business; women kept coming to me for advice. I think I get it from my father, though. He’s a pastor so I think that’s where I get my openness to share my truth [with] people.
What has fashion done for you as an individual?
Fashion is something that I’m gifted at. It’s not something that I had to learn, I didn’t go to school for it; I’ve been winning best dressed and most popular since junior high. I like making clothes and making T-shirts and making shorts into skirts. I’ve always done that since I was a child, but I never paid attention to those skills. I thought looking cute and dressing well was something that I was supposed to know how to do because both of my parents dressed very well all the time. I was always turning my dresses backward, or turning things upside down. I was always trying to make my clothes into something different. That’s what made me want to start designing my own clothes; I just never liked the way my clothes came originally.
What does being a female African American entrepreneur mean to you?
It means a whole lot to me, especially where my store is located [on Melrose] because when I was younger, [I] used to walk the street and see that there were only White-owned businesses. Still, to this day, the majority of the stores owned on this street are White-owned. So that in itself feels really good. Then to be a Black woman owning a store and be an entrepreneur, it feels like a big accomplishment.
You mentioned that a Steve Harvey video about passion inspired you to pursue fashion. How has that video transformed your outlook on your professional career?
I used to work for eBay for six years, and the last two years of me working there, I was so miserable. I kept telling my boss “this can’t be life.” I knew way too many people and had too many followers on Instagram to just be average and not use my platform to benefit myself and others. Once I took more time to focus on my gift and not what I was passionate about, I realized that I was also passionate about my gift. Steve Harvey said, “your gift is the thing you can do with the least amount of effort to your best ability.” I heard that quote years ago and I still repeat it today. That quote resonated with me so much. Fashion is the thing that I can do with the least amount of effort to the best of my ability and I was still good at it.
What type of woman would love your designs?
I definitely design for the classy, the confident, the sexy, the prominent, woman. I’m my own muse. When I design, I design to my own liking; I don’t follow trends. I try to set trends, not follow them.
What message do you hope to send young women through your success?
I want people to realize that you have the choice to do whatever you want in life. If you want to go out and be a bum for the rest of your life, you can. The same way you can make the choice to do nothing, you have the same choice to apply that pressure and chase after your dreams. You have to wake up and tell yourself that you are going to accomplish something today. It might seem impossible, but when you have God by your side, you can do anything. … God has the power to change your life in a day. He can make you a success tomorrow if he wanted to.
Talk about your most recent event for Ella Lasque.
My clothing line Ella Lisque had its fall collection fashion show. It was hosted by Karen Civil, Eric Bellinger performed, and there were many celebrities in attendance
Where can we find you on social media? Where can we find your clothing?
Store – Style Hose