An entrepreneur, influencer, speaker, author, and 5-star fashionista! Fusing the worlds of fashion and digital journalism, she revolutionized how designers, brands, and stylists identify their audience, showcase their work, and amplify their awareness. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about none other than the amazing Claire Sulmers.
MONARCH: You created such an amazing brand. So before we talk about your future, I would like our readers to know how it all started. Walk us down that journey.
CLAIRE SULMERS: I’ll give you the Cliff sNotes version. I grew up just loving to shop, loving to write, and really loving to read magazines as well and noticing that there weren’t a lot of representations of women of color in the magazines that I liked to read. I would always write to magazines asking for more diversity. At the time, they weren’t really feeling it. But going on and on throughout my high school and college years, I’ve always been a big advocate for diversity and inclusion. Then, when I decided to become a journalist, it kind of naturally happened when my fi rst internship was at Upscale magazine and they had an opening in the fashion and beauty department. So that’s reAn entrepreneur, infl uencer, speaker, author, and 5-star fashionista! Fusing the worlds of fashion and digital journalism, she revolutionized how designers, brands, and stylists identify their audience, showcase their work, and amplify their awareness. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about none other than the amazing Claire Sulmers. ally where I got started as a fashion writer, and I fell in love with it. And 16-plus yearslater, here we are.
MONARCH: What made you decide to make a career in fashion? Was it the lack of representation or something else?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Honestly, I think it was in my DNA. My grandfather on my mother’s side owned his own tailoring shop in Nassau, Bahamas. My mother went to the High School of Fashion Industries. She always used to make clothes for me. We used to bond over going shopping together at the malls. I always loved to shop; I was a certified mall rat. But it never became clear to me that it could become a job or a vocation until after college. I majored in French and African-American studies at Harvard University. I was a double major. I wanted to use my African American studies degree to make a change but didn’t know if it was going to be in politics or TV. It just so happened that I followed my love and passion for writing and, throughout several different internships, found out that my two passions were beauty and fashion, and I ultimately homed in on the fashion.
MONARCH: That’s pretty impressive. Are both of your parents Bahamian?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Thank you. My mother is from the Bahamas. My father is from Haiti.
MONARCH: In this day and age, there are so many social media accounts out there that focus on fashion. How did Fashion Bomb Daily become such a success, and how is it different than others?
CLAIRE SULMERS: There are many factors that contribute to our success. First, we placed our focus on an overlooked yet very powerful demographic, and that is men and women of color, people who make our music and move our culture. These individuals have an enormous impact, but for so long, they were overlooked and treated like second-class citizens when it came to fashion and beauty magazines. So we were one of the first to be like okay, Beyoncé she’s great, Ciara she’s great. We’re going to cover what they’re wearing and focus on them on the red carpet versus other outlets that might overlook them. And that was initially it. I think that what continues to fuel our success is consistency. I’ve been doing Fashion Bomb Daily since 2006, so it’s been 16 years of updating almost every day, whether it’s me or a member of my team. Attacking each article with excellence, trying to make sure that all the information is correct and that the pictures are beautiful, and doing what we do consistently and with excellence. I would say lastly, it’s also always keeping an eye on and focusing on our reader. I think that traditional media provides the consumer with something to look at. But we’re very focused on including the consumer in everything that we do, whether it’s answering their wardrobe inquiries or, featuring them as a Fashion Bomber or a Bombshell of the Day, or inviting real-life, everyday people the opportunity to come to our events. Our goal is to inform and create an inclusive environment for everyone who loves fashion, letting them know that fashion can be fun and accessible to everyone. So if you have a passion for it, then you can participate in the fashion industry with Fashion Bomb Daily.
MONARCH: Absolutely. I would also add dedication to the craft. Please share the numerous numbers of hours devoted to Fashion Bomb Daily so it can achieve and maintain the level of excellence we have grown to expect from it.
CLAIRE SULMERS: Countless hours between my team and me. We really try to cover fashion Monday through Sunday, 365 days throughout the year, all around the clock. I never want anyone to believe that I do it all by myself. I have an incredible team that is super consistent and super dedicated to our demographic and our audience. We all understand that we’ve created this wonderful platform, and with it comes a great responsibility to keep it going, no matter what. As an entrepreneur, I work hard for sure; however, I could not do this on my own. I found a wonderful group of people who have been able to help me realize my vision, specifically with the media sites, so that we can continue to grow and expand as a brand and to e-commerce.
MONARCH: I think that people do not understand that when you’re in the fashion industry, there are no days off. As you said, 365 days a year. You have to bring content; you have to work late hours.
CLAIRE SULMERS: As one of my friends always says, it’s a lifestyle. I wake up at 3 a.m. and pick up my phone and begin posting. So if you ever see posts at 3 a.m. or between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Fashion Bomb, it’s me. I just woke up and I have this moment of insomnia and I’m just okay, what’s happening? But I love it. It’s such a wonderful blessing. So I always give glory to God for being able to do what I love for a living.
MONARCH: It is so important to love what you do; it really helps to navigate the tough times. With that said, what are some of the challenges or obstacles you’ve experienced in your 16-year journey?
CLAIRE SULMERS: There are challenges all the time, especially with fashion shows. You can’t imagine how many things can and often go wrong, no matter how much you plan. So you have to change your perspective on what a failure is or what a challenge is and just understand that this is a part of the game. A big part of being an entrepreneur is that you’re going to meet different challenges es, but how you react to those challenges makes the difference.
When our Instagram was disabled in 2018, our Instagram was offline for about nine months, which was really tough, but I think the wonderful lesson that I learned from that was how to diversify, so through that experience, we launched e-commerce. We started doing more events. I started to go out and speak more and host so it really opened up a lot of opportunities that I don’t think I would have tapped into if that hadn’t happened. So my advice for all entrepreneurs is to just roll, go with the flow, roll with the punches as they come, and just continue to stay focused on that bigger goal.
MONARCH: Absolutely. I mean, life is all about pivoting, right?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Because it’s never going to go the way you envision it. The quote that always sticks with me, is you don’t learn from your successes; you learn from your failures. When you are down, you learn a lot from that. And if something like that hits you again, you’re going to be ready to pick up and just keep it moving so I commend you on that.
MONARCH: So do you consider yourself a stylist, taste maker, journalist, or all three?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Well, I am not a stylist, and I think a lot of people think I’m a stylist just because I work in fashion. I obviously love clothes, I love to shop, love to get dressed, but I would never style a whole photo shoot. No, thank you. That is not because I don’t want to do it. It’s just that’s not really my skill set.
But I do feel strongly about being a journalist. I’ve had journals since I was a child. I went home to Atlanta and my mom keeps everything, so I found a journal from when I was seven. I have been documenting my life and writing recaps of everything since I was really young. It’s just one of those skills that I unknowingly honed from really young until now. So journalist and tastemaker, I’ll take that.
MONARCH: What is your definition of fashion?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Fashion is a personal expression of your personality, of who you are and, in some cases, who you aspire to be.
MONARCH: What are some of the things you dislike about fashion, if there are any?
CLAIRE SULMERS: I love fashion, but I think that the fashion industry has a ways to go in terms of being truly inclusive, allowing access, and being diverse in general. I think people believe fashion should be snobby and super exclusive and you’re not on the list sort of thing. To me, that energy is very archaic and I’m ready for the new era to come about, where it’s truly about that creativity. It’s about fun, it’s about expression, and nothing more.
MONARCH: Who are some of your fashion heroes? Who influences you?
CLAIRE SULMERS: A fashion career hero… certainly Teri Agins, Robin Givhan, and a lot of the fashion journalists we know and love, like Anna Wintour. There are some style influences on Instagram, but I really focus on the journalists, my fellow editors who inspire me, like Andre Leon Talley.
MONARCH: Now what celebrities do you believe have style?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Well, I would say Mary J. Blige. I love her style. We’re both Capricorns. Our birthdays are one day apart, and I think that we’re style twins in a lot of ways, like the thigh-high boots, the hoops, the jewelry. I really think that Capricorns sometimes want to be seen, and she looks impeccable every single time she steps outside. The hair, the make-up, the outfit — she’s on point, so I love Mary. I think J.Lo does a great mix of really girly outfits and then she harkens back to New York with the hoops and stuff like that. Victoria Beckham — I think that she’s always really clean and chic. Solange Knowles is a big one. I think Solange has a great personal style. A lot of things she pulls off, I don’t know if I would try, but it definitely works for her. And Teyana Taylor. I think Teyana Taylor is an example of a celebrity who has no stylist but still always looks really cool.
MONARCH: I agree with every one of those, every single one. You have your runway show coming up. Do you believe that there’s still a lack of representation of Black designers on the major runways?
CLAIRE SULMERS: I think so. There are more Black designers on the Fashion Week calendar this season, but I still think that there is an opportunity, for not just Black designers, but I would say emerging designers, those who don’t have the capital or the resources to put on a whole big fashion show. I know from experience this is a very expensive venture. It takes a lot of moving parts. You need a big team. I’m proud to say that the Bomb fashion show features a lot of emerging designers making their premier at this season’s New York fashion week.
MONARCH: Bravo. How many are you showcasing at the Bomb fashion show?
CLAIRE SULMERS: We have 13 designers. Three of them are handbag and accessories designers, including Olayemii Handbags and Silver & Riley. We also have Sybille Guichard and Fulani Handbags. She’s a shoe designer in the Fashion Bomb Daily shop. Other designers are Michele Lopez, Mason Beretta, Bruce & Glen, and Aisha McShaw. Half of them are on the Fashion Bomb Daily shop, and the rest of them are people who approached us; I looked at their designs and thought they were great, and so you’re in for a treat. I’d say that most of the looks are going to be ready to wear or kind of more couture-level gowns. But the thing that I’m most excited about is that all of the designs that we’ll show will be available for purchase right from the runway on fashionbombdailyshop.com
MONARCH: We’ll be there to see and support all those amazing designers. Now, with that being said, who are some of your favorite designers right now?
CLAIRE SULMERS: I love Balmain for many reasons. One reason is it’s a French brand headed by a Black designer. Since I majored in French and African American studies, that’s an immediate connection. I also love Olivier Rousteing of Balmain; I am just mad about their blazers. A blazer is a very classic part of my wardrobe because I’m top heavy; a blazer kind of helps minimize and brings everything together. Others that I adore are Oyemwen, Hanifa, Rayar Jeans, and London Couture. A lot of the designers I love are in the Fashion Bomb Daily shop, but outside of those, I would say Balmain is probably my favorite.
MONARCH: With fashion shows comes music. Would you agree that music and fashion pretty much go hand in hand?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Certainly. You know musical artists’ look is a huge part of their image. So yes, they do go hand in hand.
MONARCH: I agree you can’t have one without the other. With that said what is the soundtrack that Claire Sulmers fashion experience?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Oh my goodness, that may be Beyonce’s Renaissance and Kanye West’s Sunday Service.
MONARCH: So what’s next on the horizon for you?
CLAIRE SULMERS: Definitely TV. My glam team, they’re always like, you need to do a reality show. I’m like I don’t know about that but something in TV and, you know, depicting Black fashion or Black beauty positively on the small screen. More books. I’ve written one book. I want to write another one. More events now that the pandemic is over. The Bomb Fashion Show is our only event this year. But I think next year we’re going to do at least triple or quadruple the events, just like old times, and just continuing to grow and scale our brand.
MONARCH: This has been a wonderful experience. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down with me. Please tell our readers where they can catch up with you and all things Claire.
CLAIRE SULMERS: Yes, you can of course visit our website, TheBombLife. com. Also, our ecommerce website is FashionBombDailyShop.com.