The One, The Only: Rayah Shapiro

Vanessa Le, Photojournalist

Here, I have been graced with Rayah Shapiro (12) and her presence and I was able to interview her and her experience with designing a dress that was to be sold in Nordstroms worldwide. As a boho beach babe, Rayah is able to live her dreams at an early age and jump start her career in the fashion industry. Let’s hear what she has to say about herself:


Q: How has your hometown shaped you into the person you are today? How do you think your personality reflects your personal style?

A: Living by the beach has probably shaped me and my style the most. I have a more nonchalant, relaxed kind of vibe and that influences me to wear beachy outfits, even though I live in a rural area. My personality can be really different at times–sometimes I can be super beachy and sometimes I can be dressed up in high fashion. I definitely wear a lot of blues and greens because they bring out my fair skin color and light eyes. I also have a bohemian style and I love to wear Free People. Free People supports many different styles such as dressy or casual so I feel like Free People would represent my style the most: diverse.


Q: What are your hobbies and what are you most passionate about?

A: I’ve stuck with artistic jobs and I more or less draw and create different kind of art pieces. I’m passionate about fashion and I try to immerse myself into anything involving fashion. I found this internship at Nordstrom called BP Fashion Board and I have also enrolled in an online program through Teen Vogue and Parsons.


Q: Where or what do you grab your inspiration from when you create?

A: I take inspiration off of nature through aspects of color and shapes. It helps to just stop and take a break to look at nature and see everything it has to offer.


Q: What was the process of producing your dress design through the Nordstrom’s BP design contest like?

A: I based it off of what my friends and I would like. Again, growing up near the beach, I wanted to maintain that vibe so I made the design more of a shorter, flowy dress. I first drew this dress a long time ago and it was similar to a baby doll dress; I took the shape of dress for Nordstrom’s design and I used an applique of lace to have a bit of a different feel to it than just a plain fabric. Also, what was popular at the time was the t-shirt dress and I also based it off of that while also adding a few little twists to make it intriguing.


Q: What was your favorite part of the design process?

A: My favorite part was definitely going up to Seattle and seeing it in person. I didn’t think I was going to win the contest and I actually thought that the design was kind of lame, but then they contacted me and had me flown up to Seattle where corporate offices are. Seeing it come to life was pretty cool– also, working and seeing it in the stores and people trying it on was amazing.


Q: Were your designs eventually sold out?

A: The black dresses sold out really fast and the ivory dresses were sold pretty well but not as as well as the black dresses!


Q: Where do you hope to be in 10 years?

A: I hope to either be a head designer for a company that has already been established such as Free People, For Love and Lemons, and any other beach brands like Billabong or Roxy or to just have my own brand, which I have slightly already started building in my Commercial Art’s class.


Q: Where do you hope to go to school to achieve your dreams/goals?

A: I really hope to go to school in New York. I’ve lived in California my whole life and I love it, but I just want something different.


Q: Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself since being involved with art your whole life…and now design?

A: I learned that I could do it. Definitely in the beginning, people would tell me that fashion is really hard to get into, that I wasn’t going to make it, that I’m not going to make any money. But knowing that my design was picked and that I didn’t even think it was that great is a really great feeling to just to know that I can make it.


Q: What’s the best piece of advice that has ever been given to you?

A: My dad would always tell me to just to have fun and stay happy because that’s what is really important. If you’re not having fun, then what’s the point? And if you’re not happy, then you’re not having fun!


Q: Any advice for any prospective fashion designers or anyone thinking to join the fashion industry?

A:  Go after anything you find and try to find certain ways into fashion. I still don’t know a whole lot about fashion, but I keep on striving to know all that I can and the reason I got this opportunity was trying to find ways to get into the fashion industry and through Nordstrom’s BP fashion board, I found that. The more you know and the more you do, the better you’ll be prepared for your future.


I hope you were as intrigued about Rayah as I was when listening about her talk about her endeavors and inspiration in life. She is the perfect role model for girls who want to venture into the fashion industry, so if I were you I’d take her advice to heart and follow your dreams.