We had the good fortune of connecting with Reya Roussel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Reya, why did you pursue a creative career?
I have always been an artist. As far back as I can remember, I would tell anyone who asked that my career goals were to be a dancer or poet. My first memories are of me performing in costumes in living rooms and choreographing or sketching with friends. So despite my parents encouraging me to study engineering or another well paid/secure field, they supported me in pursuit of my goals to study dance at the performing arts high school in Dallas and move on to study dance and liberal arts in college. I believe artists are just as important to communities as doctors and lawyers. We document and express things that cannot be quantified, as well as inspire others.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am versatile and well studied. I am informed by years of sewing experience, global travel, and academic study. I think as an artist that is very important. While my brand is fashion-based, it is not limited to clothing. As I grow my business and platform, I am excited to share knowledge and be a representative of my community, my ancestry, and the future world that I envision. I am proud to have recently reached the goal of having my designs walk the runway. My most recent show was at the end of February 2020, before the world was hit hard by the pandemic and social events were canceled. I look forward to more shows and events in the future because I always strive to create an experience from the music and models to the fashion and bold statements make about myself and my environment. Getting to where I am now was not easy. It requires time and energy and confidence that I do not always have. I will need even more to get to the next level. However, what keeps me going is faith that this is my path and support from others. One lesson that I have learned is to focus on myself and my goals. With social media, it is easy to compare your successes to others. I may be progressing slower than others or may have fewer followers, etc. You can let comparison veer you from your path. Also, you never know who is watching you and who you are inspiring, never stop working and expressing yourself.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would have a long list of restaurants to visit. Tacos and BBQ and Chicken spots. Some of my favorites include Tacos la Banqueta or Fuel City for late nights, Rudy’s Chicken, and Daiquiri Shoppe on karaoke night. We’d have to get dessert from the Cake Bar or Funnel Cake Paradise. I would take my friend to the Arts District to go to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher. We could ride a scooter or walk to Klyde Warren Park for some sun and food trucks. For nightlife, we would have to hit the Oaklawn area and bar hop. Or catch one of my friends DJ live in Deep Ellum and stop by Dada’s. With all the eating we have planned, I would make sure we made it to the Bandan Koro African dance classes that happen on Saturdays and sweat it all out!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shoutout everyone who has supported me and continues to support me. Especially those who support my fashion brand by sharing and spending their money. Every sale is an encouragement to keep going. I also want to shoutout to all the black women who inspire me to follow my dreams. My mom who is a writer. My dance teachers who lead their own companies. And fashion designers who are successful and making waves in a field that is not necessarily “for” them like Anifa Mvuemba.

Website: amaolivia.com
Instagram: @amaofficiale
Twitter: @amaofficiale
Other: AmaOlivia on Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/AmaOlivia

Image Credits
unable to upload photos in the last page will email them with credits