Upon the release of her 90s-inspired collaboration, the fashion mogul reflects on Kanye’s impact on her career and her style evolution.
Veneda Carter’s work is something that will be familiar to you, whether you realise it or not. Following a stint in the previously warped modelling industry, the stylist received a DM many would dream of – a DM from Kanye West’s assistant, requesting a meeting soon to transform her life. With the rapper and fashion giant taking Carter under his wing during Yeezy’s most explosive era, Carter’s now-iconic blend of minimalism and 90s style references helped her climb the ranks at the rapper’s famed label and towards the role of stylist to none other than Kim Kardashian.
Following this role, Carter forged an illustrious path to the peak of the industry for herself, one that has included a rapidly growing list of solo projects including a jewellery line and, most recently, a collaboration with American footwear and apparel giant, Timberland.
“I’ve always been really into Timberland; I’ve collected for years. I feel like I can really resonate with the brand and that’s why I have big love for the company,” she divulges. “I haven’t really told a lot of people this, but I DMed them. A few months before this collaboration came about. I kept talking to my friends, like, ‘man, I really want to work with them somehow’. But, I didn’t know how to get in contact with them and also want to be humble – sometimes asking for stuff can be like really uncomfortable. So I told myself if it is meant to be, it will come to me. But So I was like, ‘you know what, I’m just gonna DM them’. I DM like, Hey, can I get in contact with the director of collaboration? And no one replied to me. But then a few months later a guy hit me up saying, ‘hey, my friend works at Timberland and he really wants to connect with you! So that’s how it kind of came about. One conversation led to another we’re both like we want to find a way we can partner right, and then this came about and here we are today.”
In celebration of her latest venture, Wonderland joined Carter in her hotel lobby during a trip to London amidst the buzz of London Fashion Week as she took some time to reflect on the path that led her to industry domination, the single DM that sparked her internet-shattering collaboration with Timberland, and the blessings that her daughter Bobbi has brought to her life. Head below to enjoy our chat with Veneda Carter and head to timberland.co.uk to shop the collection…
Veneda Carter: My husband just woke up with my daughter, because there is a time difference, so I’m just checking [on them].
Erica Rana: Of course, take your time! Are they back home?
VC: Yeah, they are!
ER: What have you been up to in London aside from all of the work?
VC: Well, we had press and then I had a photo shoot and it was nice because it was just me on my own and we included a few Timberland pieces from the mainline and then my collaboration. Then, I had an interview today and then I had my END. talk!
ER: Yes! How was that for you?
VC: It was amazing. I was so nervous! I just have never done a talk like that before. So I think, naturally, it was giving me a little bit of anxiety. But it was so nice. And I had the questions prior so I could prepare a little bit, that always helps. Everyone was so warm and I had the best time.
ER: So, I want to start at the start and then work our way down. How did you first get into fashion?
VC: Well, I think for a long time people have recognised me for my personal style. I was a model for almost 14 years. There was a point at like 24 where I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and I wasn’t happy with where I was in life. Work-wise, I didn’t feel fulfilled in any way. I wanted people to recognise what I was good at, but I also had no education. I knew that I definitely was going to go the creative way. But I didn’t know how that would happen. The modelling industry was very different back then, seven years ago – it was not my personal style, it wasn’t as diverse when it came to body types. Now, it has changed so much in the past few years, which is amazing. I love the direction the industry is going, but I feel like there’s still a lot to do, but I like where it’s at. But back then, it wasn’t about being personal and in your own individual, it was more about being a product. But it’s funny because right when I decided that I was over it; I was about to sign with a new agency, and then they asked me to lose weight. And I was like, ‘I’m not doing this bullshit anymore’. And the crazy part is the same day I get a message from Kanye’s assistant at the time asking if I would want to fly to LA and meet the Yeezy team. And I was like, ‘this cannot be real, it is spam’. I had no kind of experience whatsoever in anything but modelling. So, I see it and think it’s nothing and then they text me again. And I forward the message to my agent, so we all got an email. There were a few other people in CC and I started looking people’s names up to see if it was legit and it ends up being legit. I was in New York at that time, but the next day I flew to LA and that’s kind of how it all started. After two days, Kanye asked me if I want to move and work with him. He really believed in me, like he was the first person that you know, that’s in the industry that saw something deeper in me than just like a pretty face. He felt that I had something and, you know, he really valued my eye and sensibility.
ER: Do you think he’s had an impact on your style?
VC: Obviously, you get inspired and I collect information from so many places and I make that what I am. He definitely influenced me in so many ways. I’ve learned so much working for him. He taught me how to verbalise visuals, I was never able to express certain things; I’m very visual so I like to share via references and images, but he taught me so and he made me take a lot of chances, which I will forever be grateful for. So yeah, I took that opportunity at school and you know, he changed my life in many ways.
ER: Let’s jump onto your Timberland collaboration! Congrats on the release. Tell me how this collaboration came about!
VC: I’ve always been really into Timberland; I’ve collected for years. I feel like I can really resonate with the brand and that’s why I have big love for the company. I haven’t really told a lot of people this, but I DMed them. A few months before this collaboration came about. I kept talking to my friends, like, ‘man, I really want to work with them somehow’. But, I didn’t know how to get in contact with them and also want to be humble – sometimes asking for stuff can be like really uncomfortable. So I told myself if it is meant to be, it will come to me. But So I was like, ‘you know what, I’m just gonna DM them’. I DM like, Hey, can I get in contact with the director of collaboration? And no one replied to me. But then a few months later a guy hit me up saying, ‘hey, my friend works at Timberland and he really wants to connect with you! So that’s how it kind of came about. One conversation led to another we’re both like we want to find a way we can partner right, and then this came about and here we are today.
ER: You said you’ve been collecting for years which is very cool. Do you have a favourite piece from your archive?
VC: Well, actually, one of the boots that inspired my collection was a patent leather black six-inch boot, also limited edition, and that I found in the early 2000s – I love those.
ER: I wanted to know how you think your personal aesthetic and the brand’s aligned!
VC: I think growing up with an older brother, who was really into hip hop and American culture [influenced me a lot]. And, as you know, a lot of artists and icons styled Timberlands with big denim and stuff like that!
ER: Yes, I wanted to touch on the 90s references, obviously they come in throughout your work yeah. Do you have a favourite fashion icon from that time?
VC: I come from that era! I appreciate DMX, Pharrell, Missy Elliott, and Lauryn Hill. I mean, there are so many. Everything from the music to the style, to the way the outfits were put together; I love the simplicity and cleanness of that aesthetic. The clean lines of the 90s are just something I really appreciate.
ER: I also wanted to touch on motherhood and being a mother. How would you say that’s changed just life as well as how you’re styling and dressing?
VC: You know, first of all, I feel like I’ve become so much more successful since becoming a mum. It’s crazy. Once I gave birth and since Bobbi came into the world, the world has been giving me all of these cool opportunities and amazing people to work with. And it definitely has something to do with the fact that I transitioned from working for somebody to being freelance, but a lot of people didn’t know that! I feel like it’s the positivity and the passion and just me believing in myself and taking the time to be a mum and spending time with her; I definitely feel like a superhero in many ways. I feel super powerful. She gives me so much strength and energy. Because at the end of the day, everything I do is for her.
ER: So, your focus has shifted?
VC: 100%. And I feel like I’m way more focused and I think that’s because of the energy I give out. I do believe in that. I think it comes right back. And that’s why I’m so lucky to have these opportunities to work with these amazing people to create amazing, cool things!
ER: I bet you’re enjoying dressing her as well. I can imagine that’d be my favourite part!
VC: I enjoy it a little too much! My husband is always like, ‘you bought her another pair of shoes?’ She has just started to walk! She has way too much stuff and so fast so quick.
ER: Does she have a little pair of Timberlands from the collab?
VC: She does! They made her an exclusive pair of baby Timberland boots from the collab – the patent ones! But now everyone is asking for baby Timberlands!! I’m like, I’m sorry but my daughter is the only one who has a pair’!