“Especially within the menswear industry, you have guys who’ll flirt, obviously,” she said. “But the real challenge comes from older guys who know what they want their suit to look like and how they want it to fit. They look at me and they’re like ‘I don’t think you know what you’re doing.’”
She then tells the story of one specific customer who, after having spent time actively helping him, asked “Who’s supposed to be helping me?” and told her that he did not feel comfortable with her direction. Despite reassurances from her coworkers, the client still refused Avant’s assistance.
“Lots of people think that I don’t know what I’m doing within the menswear industry,” Avant said. “ That’s not true. I’m learning from the best.”
When asked about her goals that she wanted to achieve while working with Miguel, Avant claims that initially she just wanted to learn the industry—things like how to run a business and how to properly make a suit, for example. Through the experiences she’s gained and lessons she’s learned, Avant has narrowed her focus on women’s suits, and hopes to launch her own collection of formal women’s suiting.
“One day a woman came into the shop who was having a same-sex wedding,” Avant said. “We were having so many complications come up because Miguel only does men’s suits, and obviously men’s suits do not fit the same on women, and she was so upset. For me, it was like a lightbulb went off: suits for women. That’s what I’m gonna do.”
Since then, Tianna has taken steps to develop her own personal brand—from researching styles, her target audiences, and fabric types, Avant puts all of her free time into avoiding simple mistakes in the future. She currently is searching for a long-term manufacturer to bring her designs to life.
“In the future I want to be so well-rounded that I don’t have time to sit down and sew each suit myself,” she said.
She praises the non-gendered direction that the fashion industry has taken in recent years, and is eager to play a part in that, as well as the increased number of Black and other designers of color.
As far as advice for others wanting to go into Fashion, Avant says the best thing she can offer is to stick with it.
“Everybody’s not gonna like what you’re doing,” she said. “If you get a lot of likes and retweets on something, but nobody is actually engaging with it, that’s okay. Don’t give up. Still continue to promote how you promote because that means they see you, and when you blow up one day it’s gonna be a crazy feeling. No matter where you come from, your dream will only be a dream if you don’t chase it.”