Mali on the runway with her models at the DAMA Fashion Show 2017
I just happened upon one of those infomercials on TV the other day (something I rarely ever watch) and what this guy said had me clinging on to his every word. What he said solidified everything that I had been going through for the past 18+ months since leaving my “comfort zone” of a corporate job with benefits and a regular paycheck. He said, “You’ll never get ahead working for someone else. You can’t afford to spend another day giving all you’ve got to support someone else’s dream. Their dream will never deliver your future success, happiness & well-being.” Things that make you go “hmmm…”
As someone who knew that they never wanted to “fit in” and always wanted to pave their own path, I’ve stayed true to who I was and after 40+ years I’ve finally figured out my purpose in life. I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s face for the first day of 9th grade when I showed up wearing a black Harley Davidson t-shirt with skulls on it. After all, I was a cheerleader and cheerleaders weren’t supposed to dress like that. Growing up in the 70’s I was surrounded by a very creative and artistic family. It is here where my love of art, fashion and Indian clothing and culture was established. My Aunt branched out from the family tree and moved to NYC and eventually became a missionary in Nepal, Kathmandu. She sent me elaborate silk clothing, tunics, kaftans and Indian accessories and jewelry that were unseen in the US at that time. Several years later she had to leave India upon demand of the government so she started her very own import business for fair trade items from India in Charleston, SC.
While most of my high school class moved to the mountains to pursue their college education, I branched out further and went south to the beach where I knew less than a handful of people. My love of the performing arts lucked me into meeting like minds here and we were constantly in creative mode. From low-cost performance fashion & hair shows all the way to an annual high-end charitable fashion show, I was meeting all the right people. I found my way into the movie industry, which was thriving in Wilmington in the 90’s. Most of the people I associated with were designers, worked in the Arts, the film industry, or were hair/makeup artists. We created our own scene in this sleepy little beach town and shot renegade videos from the river to the ocean and everywhere in between. I was so inspired here that my creativity flowed and I painted large canvases with acrylics, designed and sewed my own clothes and home décor items while modeling and collaborating in these shows and events.
Finding that my options for a larger scale creative career were limited outside of this scope in North Carolina, I moved to Miami (my Mother’s hometown). This brought a whole new perspective to life and the possibility of a satisfying future. As chance would have it, I found myself immersed in makeup artistry and had the opportunity to create looks for fashion shows & photo shoots for esteemed designers like Richard Tyler and Todd Oldham. In one of my many adventures around Miami, I stumbled upon a woman whose family had a clothing manufacturing business in India. I was still drawn to the Bohemian style of Indian clothing, as wearing cotton is an absolute necessity in the humid climate of South Florida. Kaftans were now considered “resort wear” and were being digitally printed on silk blend fabrics with the most elaborate designs and embellished with crystals. The style was very typical of South Florida and Caribbean fashion. I was completely and utterly in love with Indian fashion all over again. We talked and she opened my eyes to the possibility of starting my own business. In a moment’s time everything came together. I would finally find my calling in fashion when I decided to start Luxe Isle. It was everything I loved all rolled into one; colorful & unique clothing from India, sparkling, artistic and flowing like the fashions of the 70’s. Luxe Isle blended my past and future perfectly while embodying the vibrancy and playfulness of Miami and the Caribbean.
Since then, I have been a traveling gypsy bringing my colorful flowing kaftans and tunics to many wellness, art, fashion and charitable events around South Florida such as Miami International Fashion Week, Fashion Happy Hour, WellFest Delray, PurSol Fashion Collective for Miami Swim Week, Art Basel & Wynwood Life. I now also offer personalized styling service for clients in the South Florida area for photo shoots and special events needs.
I’d like to personally invite you to come and visit us at www.LuxeIsle.com or on our social media pages, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Pinterest for our daily inspiration of Art, Beauty, Fashion, Color, Print, Nature and all things sparkling!
I truly believe that there is a life’s purpose in each of us and I encourage you to listen to your heart and take those chances in life that may not always make sense at the time. You truly never know what life has in store for you and may never find out if you don’t take a leap of faith and chase those opportunities! I hope that my story and inspiration will drive you to find your own calling & life’s purpose!
Styling by Mali Hayes & Mary Holman Johnson of MH-J Collection
/Makeup by Mali Hayes
Photography by Keith Palmer