Hello DAB’S!! It’s another Fierce Feline Friday, and I’m kicking off this Spring fashion season with something sweet for you! This sweet treat, an interview with fashion CEO, Emilrica “Emi” Henry, boss babe, role model and Founder of SWEET SAVAGE, a brand new clothing company based in California.
How We Met
I remember when I first met Emilrica. It was June 2014, and one of my good friends was having a birthday party at a swanky Los Angeles establishment called Stir. As everyone started to trickle in, my eyes shot towards the front door as a seemingly low-key party goer came in wearing a full-on show stopper outfit. That girl was Emilrica. She had her signature gorgeous big Hair, a striking shade of red lipstick, and a Roberto Cavali dress, black and white stripes with zebra print AND roses! So of course, I thought to myself, “Wow! That girl is captivating and has some serious style.”
Naturally, we were introduced a few moments later when I approached her to compliment her outfit. We struck up an incredible conversation about her background, what she did, what her story was, you know the most exciting things about people. After listening to Emi’s very intriguing story, I asked her if she would be interested in designing a custom piece for me for an upcoming dance competition I was participating in?
She said, Yes, I’d love to!” and the rest is (almost) history! Not only did Emi create a custom designed garment, but she also created a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. This piece (as all great clothing should) not only complimented my body but inspired but enhanced my routine, so much so that I won FIRST PLACE! All of the time, effort, and practice I had put into my dancing showed in my gorgeous outfit. As time continued, Emi continues to show me more of her talent, and she’s even created other pieces for me since then. I’ve come to discover, as I’m sure you will too, that Emi’s love and passion for designing are sewn into every piece she creates.
So without further ado, I would like to officially introduce all of you to my dear friend, designer-extraordinaire, stylist-to-the-stars and ultimate Boss Babe Fashionista Queen: Emilirica Henry.
Emilrica Henry is a native Filipina. Growing up with her grandparents in the Philippines is how she inherited her sense of fashion and self-expression. Recalling a time her grandmother took her to the local mall and immediately discovered that she had an eye for fashion as well as a unique sense of style at a young age. She told me she remembered picking FIVE different matching outfits and said to herself “I can get used to this life!” with a giggle.
Migrating to the United States as a teenager wasn’t easy, but it was a blessing in disguise. Her father was a Physical Therapist and was always moving from city to city. She commented with me on her nomadic upbringing.
I briefly lived in California, Florida, and even Indianapolis. It was tough. I honestly didn’t want to keep leaving my friends. At the time I was disappointed with my dad. However, I now see it as a blessing in disguise because traveling and living in different cities is what helped mold me into who I am today. I was exposed to different cultures, languages, slang, styles, fashion, music, climates, architecture…you get the idea. (She said with another giggle). It was because of those experiences that I was able to express my creative side in design and make these diverse pieces.
Later on in her life as a young adult, she found herself living in Los Angele. She created, designed and sold lingerie, bathing suits, costumes, and gowns for a local Hollywood company. It was there she honed her skill set for selling, interacting with private clients, and of course her never-ending inspiration. After that, she attended a local private college (F.I.D.M.) with her focus on Visual Communication, Design, Merchandising, Prop Making and Interiors. She wanted to get a broader knowledge base of many of the fields that touched on her real passion, Fashion Design. She graduated Cum Laude a few years later.
After earning her “stripes” in LA, she decided to take a break from it all and move to Florida. She explored the whole region including Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Del Rey, Miami and Key West. She insists
Florida is serene and very calm, it allowed me to think without any distractions, and I found my calm center.
It was through that transformative process that she said she was able to decide on what her next steps needed to be. It was also during that transformation and clarity that she met her soulmate and future husband. She describes him as a “Prince who captured me with his charm and his ever-so-romantic nature. He knows the language of love and speaks directly to my soul.”
She’s currently planning her summer wedding while launching her brand-new website http://www.shopsweeetsavage.com and before leaving our little informal interview, she said,
You know Heather, the way I see it, we can have it ALL, if ya play your cards right, but it’s not going to be easy. Nothing worth having is, but for me, my dream job of owning my own company, loving my relationship with a king who supports my dreams, and with my family is the SWEETEST part of loving my life.
To that, I say, “Amen sister. Amen!” What follows is my in-depth interview with Emi on her struggles, fears, goals, and life as a CEO.
Heathyr Frances: So Emi, How did you come up with the name “Sweet Savage”?
Emilrica Henry: It all started when I started designing and constructing costumes for festivals, events, Halloween, and theatre in my spare time. I was asked If I was to name my designs and what they reflect what I would say? From there I scrutinized the garments, with their details, the construction, the feeling of the material and what they “said” to me. I put them on so I could feel the fabric against my body and the way they were sewn to fit with the shape and form of my body. It was from that process that I then felt a sense of refinement, a sense of strength (like a warrior)…and I kept coming back to this idea in my mind of “refined yet raw.” It just felt it sounded and looked right to me. It felt feminine and strong, all at the same time.
I also looked at my heritage. I was born in the Philippians and spent the first half my life immersed in the island culture. Their mythologies and history have a lot of warriors in them, dressed in powerful, flowing, raw, hand-crafted materials. I was always captivated with that, and so I drew on those elements for inspiration as well.
From all of those things, the word “savage” came into my mind. Not in the sense of dangerous or beastly, but more so as fighter or warrior. After considering all of those things it just felt natural to have the word “savage” in my brand name. Lastly, there are layers of complexity, beauty, and refinement to the female form and the female experience, so the word “sweet” was a natural next step….and then they just fit perfectly together, so then I had “Sweet Savage”!
Heathyr Frances: Wow, That is very Aweeee-Inspiring Emi. When did you start creating your company?
Emilrica Henry: It was sometime around 2010 when I realized I needed to describe my designs to people, as well as myself. I had the opportunity to showcase some of my creations and ideas a store.
For my own brand identity to be recognized by customers as well as separate from the store’s items I knew I needed to create my brand, and that was how it was born. It was still, of course, in a very early stage and it took a few years of developing for the official launch of the company.
Around 2014-2015 I commissioned a few select orders that started to generate the buzz. That was when I pulled the trigger on the next phase. I decided to begin tackling the administrative elements of the business like getting my trademark, solidifying a website address, developing my social media handles and online presence. It was a challenge, of course, to make sure my brand had a consistent identity and easily remembered.
Heathyr Frances: It goes to show, you can be anywhere or working for anyone, and your passions might come alive from what you’re doing. So, Where can our readers find you online?
Emilrica Henry: My website http://www.ShopSweetSavage.com is the central hub for my brand. You can also find me on Instagram.
Personal Instagram: @_sweetsavage
Heathyr Frances: Emi, What is your five-year goal for Sweet Savage?
Emilrica Henry: Five years seems like such a long time from now. Haha, but seriously, living in the moment is essential to me, smart planning is also vital. My goals include growing while gaining a better understanding of the industry and trade. I would love to have an actual store-front sometime soon. There is just something special that resonates with me about working face-to-face with clients. Partly because I work best one-on-one with people, but also because there’s something electric and magical about human interaction.
I guess I’m a little old-school in that regards after all my craft and my business exists in the physical, real-life world of “fabrics and fits, as well as the intangible world of ideas and fantasy. Other than that, my goals are to keep an open mind and an open heart towards the future. Much of my success is directly linked to not boxing myself in too much. Life is an exciting journey of fashion and fantasy, and I want everyone to join me in it.
Heathyr Frances: BEAUTIFUL…..What struggles have you faced along the way to opening your site/brand?
Emilrica Henry: Gosh, struggles? There are many. Of course the normal entrepreneurial ones like staying driven, patient and motivated. The administrative and legal aspects can be tedious at times, especially for creatives. Sometimes I find my ideas exceed my budget, but what dreamer doesn’t? Haha, then, of course, there are more personal things like wondering how people will respond to new ideas, staying competitive without losing the joy of making things. It’s a rabbit-hole that can quickly suck anyone in. At the end of it all only you can make my dreams come true, so I try to see the struggles as opportunities to live my truth and do what I love.
Heathyr Frances: Emi you’re going to make me cry because that is the truth for any creative individual. What keeps you pushing forward?
Emilrica Henry: What keeps me moving forward is self-realization. An understanding of my self-worth and always asking myself “Why am I here in this world?”. Once I understood the importance of that question, I realized that I could share, help, and inspire other women with my skill-set, my vision, my style and my knowledge. Although it’s starting in women’s fashion, I see it growing into something much bigger. Something that touches all the areas of our lives and eventually including all genders, ages, and industries.
Heathyr Frances: What is your advice to other designers looking to create/open their brand?
Emilrica Henry: My advice is to finish what you start. Use your resources/connections wisely. Don’t be afraid to seek and find inspiration everywhere. To be knowledgeable about your craft. To be passionate about the creative aspects and have a clear understanding of business fundamentals with your goals. Don’t forget to always present, even when you think no one is looking. Also, practice makes perfect isn’t something to say, it’s a life truth. Lastly, have patience, it will grow if you plant it.
Heathyr Frances: Emi, that is GREAT advice. Thank you soooo much for being with us today. I am Personally very excited for you and Sweet Savage. I am looking forward to collaborating again to see what we can come up with in 2018! Also, I am confident our DAB’S and readers will be looking to you as festival and fashion season approaches.
Don’t forget to follow Emi on all of her social media at
Personal Instagram: @_sweetsavage
We’ll catch you next time on Fierce Feline Friday!
Heathyr Frances – Your exclusive DAB
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