Keva Johnson exploded onto the scene in 2005 immediately after graduating Apparel Design at Florida State University. Her innovative pieces which combine futuristic modern cut-outs with bold, Rastafarian hues and metallic colors, have graced the pages of numerous magazines and line the rails of boutiques and stores from Miami to New York. With seasonal collections already under her belt and a line of signature tees, “WHO THE HELL IS KEVA J”, accessories and handbags are next on her agenda.
Keva took the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions to give UnitedEditorsatLarge a humble and honest insight into her greatest motivations, inspirations and challenges.
Having a natural affiliation with creativity and fashion, designing seems the most normal thing for you to do. You have created lines of swimwear, signature tees and you are planning on releasing a line of accessories and handbags in the near future, which project has been the most challenging/rewarding?
I would say the swimsuits are the most challenging and rewarding. I feel like every collection I have to top myself! So it becomes that much harder. Trying to keep every suit different and not conform to the normal, everyday design selling out there. It’s been rewarding because the consumer response is what keeps me going. All the emails, editorials and celebrity clients have been amazing! My dreams are coming true, day by day. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Being of Jamaican decent, would you say this element of your background plays an important part in the design process?
I think my Jamaican decent plays a role in my design process. In my first collection, I was able to use the Rastafarian colors in different ways. I actually found suspenders with the red/green/gold colors and used them in a way to reflect my personal style. Its fun to be able to take certain elements from my culture and tie them in with today's current trends!
Do all your collections have the same thing in common, or does each creation represent something unique in itself?
All of my collections are different, but they have the same edgy flair! Every season I have a different theme/inspiration, but I always tie in my edgy style to the designs. My last collection was inspired by Africa. So the colors and the fabrics I used represented different elements of Africa, and the edgy designs brought it all together. My new collection is inspired by Barbie! So it’s all about being a girl and having fun. There will be lots of pink and ruffles, but with a chic edge!
You were voted "best dressed" in college; would you say your day-to-day style is reflected in your designs?
Yes! My everyday style does reflect my designs. I have my own edgy style, and I'm a huge fan of accessories. So I always try and incorporate those elements in my designs, being different and standing out. I love funky necklines and mixing colors.
New to New York, how would you say the city has changed the way you think, work and create?
I must say that being in New York has influenced me as a designer in so many ways. I feel like the lifestyle, the people and the atmosphere are totally different from Miami. You can walk down 5th avenue and get so much inspiration from the store front windows, the stylish dressing, or even the buildings. Being here has allowed me to grow creatively as a designer, and I love that. Like they say, this is definitely "the concrete jungle where dreams are made of."
What advice would you give any striving designers out there? Do you remember any tricks of the trade you were privvy to when starting out?
Well first I will say, it’s definitely not as easy as it looks. I was under the impression that I was going to move to New York and meet P. Diddy and live the life of luxury. But then reality set in. You have to be strong and stay focused. This industry will try to knock you down sometimes but you have to have that determination and will to succeed.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what one item would you not be able to live without?
This is a hard one. If I was on a desert island, the one item I couldn't live without would probably be my blackberry. I live on my phone. I don't think I would know how function without it.