How did you become interested in fashion? Who are some of your inspirations and mentors?
My greatest influences are some of the women in my family—my grandmother and my great grandmother. My grandmother on my father’s side, Kathleen Rose, created clothes for utilitarian purposes, like work, everyday life, and church. My great-grandmother and my line’s namesake, Ola Mai, created clothes for special occasions, like the square dances she would take me to every Friday night.
As I child I had great affection for the glamour of Hollywood and rock and roll. I can remember wrapping myself in some pink shinny fabric, most likely a curtain, playing dress-up, even holding a vase of faux flowers. I wish I could remember what award I was pretending I had won. My influences are contrasting—one from a utilitarian world of design learned on a family farm in the Midwest, mixed with sewing square dancing dresses in Nashville.
I’ve always been enchanted by the sparkle of the performer—my hope for my clothes is they have a sense of ease with an undeniable uniqueness. My style varies but I like to use these words to describe it: Ethereal, delicate, graceful, feminine, unexpected, easy, classic, shimmering, pastel, psychedelic, dreamscape, chic, mysterious, functional, luminescent, and of course sparkly!
Who are some Nashville-based fashion and entertainment leaders who have been influential in your work?
I’ve been lucky enough to work for some badass fashion leaders. Most recently I worked for Karen Elson. Through Karen, I was able to visit all the fashion capitals and access events that I had only dreamed of. These amazing experiences and travels have had a life-altering influence on me, and greatly shaped the way I see the fashion world
My first big fashion job was working with fashion stylist Tiffany Gifford. She styles some of country music’s greatest entertainers, like Miranda Lambert and Shania Twain. I learned about the entertainment side of fashion.
I’ve carried that through with my own relationship with the local music scene. Whether I collaborate designing stage wear or help with creative direction on a music video, I thrive on helping artists shape their vision through fashion.
Lastly, I have to mention my friendship with Marcia Masulla, one of the Nashville Fashion Week founders. Watching her and the community that she has created has empowered me to believe that I can accomplish things that actually affect change.
For more on Leslie Stevens and her brand, check out her social media at:
· Website: http://www.olamaiclothing.com
· Facebook: @olamaiclothing
· Twitter: @olamaiclothing
· Instagram: @OLA_MAI