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Inspiration Interviews

Fashion Designer Stoi Phillips on Models, Mental Health, and Making a Difference

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Models are perfect, right?

They are tall and skinny with clear skin and perfect features. They are the ‘IT’ girls. The pursuit of perfection that the fashion industry has instilled into the brains of every girl from a very young age.

Why is it that the fashion industry is so narrow minded as to create an industry of ‘IT’ girls of one shape, one size, one color, one look?

A narrow-minded vision of what girls think they should look like, when in reality what makes us special is our differences. Models should represent our uniqueness and differences and Designer and Founder of Stoi’s Design Company, Stoi strives to make that happen.

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Stoi Phillips creates a mission through her work to break these fashion industry norms and create a space where everyone is welcome, represented, empowered, and respected. We live in a world full of different people, that’s what makes each individual special, so why does the fashion industry surpass that?

While talking with Stoi, she had a lot to say about how these perceptions of what a model should look like in the fashion industry has created a huge mental health problem. Mental health is very important and these models are constantly looking in the mirror picking apart every piece of their being.

I asked her about her thoughts on the fashion industry in 2021 and how her brand is defying the rules of this industry.  She proceeded to tell me how she loves to see the fashion industry finally making steps towards a more diverse representation from different ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and ages. Stoi’s Design Company has always strived to do that, so the fashion industry is finally catching up to her vision. You may say she is ahead of her time or a leader in that sense.

She talked about her designs and how each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind; Couture. She creates a piece designed just for you, so the look and size are perfect. Couture at a reasonable price eliminates the hassle of shopping at the mall, trying on clothes, and leaving empty handed feeling discouraged that nothing looked good on you or fit right. We have all been there. Stoi’s Design Company is the solution to creating a style of shopping that eliminates that discouragement. Her approach gives each customer an individualized experience to make them feel beautiful and confident in their own skin. Just take a look at the fashion shows she has debuted collections in. Her models are all so diverse that each person in the audience can see themselves in at least one of the models and envision themselves wearing that piece.

Stoi is on a mission to defy the fashion industry standards from Columbia, South Carolina to around the world. She plans to do this through her partnerships and her own company. Stoi is partnered with ADN (A Diverse Nation Modeling Team), Elodie, and Diakeim Lyles Casting. ADN founder, Shinice Kelly, who is a Supermodel and role model to models today is a true leader. Stoi explained, “She believes that the key to success is helping others succeed and grow to their greatest potential.”

Her other collaboration with Elodie Good Mental Health is more personal to Stoi. At a young age, Stoi grappled with low self esteem and depression, so she recognizes these behaviors, signs, and symptoms in some of the models she styles or has styled. She further explains, “Mental Health issues play a silent role in the fashion industry.”

Danielle Larkins, founder of Elodie aims to promote wellness with a philosophy of teaching, educating, and enhancing the quality of life for her clients. As a designer and Elodie partner, Stoi is the gateway to getting help for those models in the industry who need it. Stoi wants all to know, “Models, you don’t have to suffer in silence anymore!”

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The third partnership is with Diakeim Lyles Casting. Stoi recognizes that there needs to be more options and opportunities for models in South Carolina. Diakeim is a Freelance Casting Director in New York City and has the resources to help these models grow. These collaborations are Stoi’s way of paying omish to the fashion industry by leading by example and setting a new standard for models and the industry as a whole. Her partners are educating, empowering, advocating, and bringing awareness to an issue that needs to be spoken about and addressed.

Wrapping up the interview, Stoi explained that she is creating a brand that is on the path to global recognition in fashion and interior design. Her company has four brands they represent, which all go hand in hand in one way or another. She is a creative genius who inspires through her work and her mission. Mental health is very important and Stoi is putting that at the forefront of fashion. Models should feel proud, beautiful, and comfortable in their skin, no matter what they look like. Stoi is designing an industry where every girl is that ‘IT’ girl.

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