A Conversation wtih Yola Gray-Baker the Fashion designer and CEO of House of Flayva

This week we interview Yola Gray-Baker the Fashion designer and CEO of House of Flayva. House of Flayva is known for their street life designs which, draws from Jamaican culture and the vibrant colors of the Caribbean. Yola Gray-Baker was the 2010 Saint International’s Avante Garde winner.Here is our conversation with Yola.

Where in Jamaica are you from?
I am originally from St. Mary in Jamaica, but currently reside with my husband in Stony Hill overlooking the city of Kingston.

What inspired you to create House of Flayva and where does the name come from?
My inspiration – OK – Street Life/Hobo – yes.  Originally my designs were inspired by street people wear – tucked, pinned, tied, draped.  There was no need to sew.  I took a piece of fabric and tied it, wrapped it, do whatever you want to do with it to make it look sexy and classy into a great garment.  Could make up a garment in 5 minutes. None of my fabric goes to waste.  Left over pieces are always being used for patching or striping or whatever.  Very simple.  Have a Carnaby Street image – whimsical, floaty, conservatively revealing and edgy.

How many lines of clothing do you currently have under the label?
Mostly ladies resort wear but am currently working on a “T”weed shirt collection as well as a beach wedding collection.  The “T”weed meaning T/shirt with the ganja weed logo. Ironically these will carry inspirational messages – won’t tell you any more. You will have to wait to see the outcome.   
The beach wedding is a “Flash it then Trash it” collection in which the couple can jump in the ocean after their “I dos” and not worry that they have on $50,000 wedding garments and is worried about messing it up  in the salt water.  By the way, I will be doing the groom’s wear as well.

You recently launched a rasta color line. What was the inspiration behind the line?
From time to time I launch a different line – always using the rasta colors and lifestyle as my inspiration.  For one, they are always a good sell, but also I will never forget my Caribbean roots.  I am not a rasta myself but I do like the naturalness and down to earth (literally) nature of their lifestyle.  
The calmness of the Caribbean sea will also always be an inspiration to my pieces.

When did you first fall in love with fashion?
I think as a child growing up I always had a love for it as my aunt, with whom I lived in the rural St. Mary sewed for all the women in the district and at age 10 I made my first dress.  Plus I am artistically gifted in so many other areas so it’s a natural.

How would you describe your own personal style?
My own personal style is first and foremost – comfortably edgy, classy and unique.

Describe your fashion mission?
Always make a statement – I guess you can say it’s my Mission Statement – I think I will do a Collection called MISSION STATEMENT.  Thanks for the idea.

Which designers do you love right now?
Nicole Miller, Tracey Reese, Jason Wu

Anything we should look out for from you in the coming weeks/months/year?
Definitely my Wedding Collection and a Collection I’m in the process of creating to commemorate Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.  I hope to do a show in Florida for the commemoration – am not sure exactly when this show is, I think in June. I will be doing New York Fashion Week later on in the year.  Am also launching the beach wedding collection at a show in Orlando in March for a “’Beautiful Brides” magazine.

A phrase you use far too often?”
I don’t think I have one.

What food brings your comfort when you are disappointed?
None, my stomach gets in a knot and I can’t eat. It’s the reality of a perfectionist. If it’s not right I worry and lose my appetite.

Fashion tip for 2012?
Dare to bare and take the plunge.

In a nutshell, your philosophy is?
When you love another for who they are,
whatever they do or think is irrelevant.
Welcome to the Reality of God.

Thanks for the interview. Any closing thoughts?
Judging is not a problem. Judging is innocent.
It is when you judge your judgment and believe it,
that is when judging becomes a problem for you.

About the author

Xavier Murphy