ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Born in Accra, Ghana on the Western Coast of Africa to a Nigerian father and a Russian mother, Joanna de’Shay grew up heavily influenced by the exotic people, cultures, and textures of her majestic homeland. Armed with a dual master’s degree, an MFA in Fashion Design and a Master's in Management, Joanna created Black Russian Label in 2013, a women’s upscale clothing brand for the global, chic woman who is unapologetic, bold, and empowered by her individual style. Bravely leaving a 15+ year career in corporate America to pursue her fashion dream, Joanna is the epitome of an ambitious, visionary entrepreneur who wanted more. She has designed a purpose-filled, intentional life and brand with success markers, defined on her own terms. Joanna is an avid servant leader who believes in being a part of the solution and is on a mission to disrupt industries, create new narratives, and educate existing systems on the need for diverse voices and fresh perspectives.
As a strong advocate for social justice and after leaving corporate America, Joanna explored her passion for community service and consulting around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Currently, she currently consults with Diversity Leadership Alliance, serving as its Executive Director, a role she's held for the past 6 years. Diversity Leadership Alliance is the premiere education training organization in Arizona dedicated to eradicating racism, bias, and prejudice. DLA stands for justice and equity and continues to serve as a pivotal resource for sustainable changes in the community. DLA’s goal is to create an inclusive community where each person is equally respected and empowered.
Joanna is also an educator, serving as faculty at Arizona State University teaching in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts' Fashion Program. Always an advocate for equitable discourse, this changemaker embarked on a journey to create a new fashion class to help enrich the program. The class is called Inclusion and Diversity in the Fashion Industry and is designed to foster an inclusive fashion environment where all voices and narratives are not only heard but honored, creating space for true collaboration where the fashion industry can be reflective of the diverse people it serves. This community leader is also a warrior Mom to two amazing young men and everything she does is to ensure that the world is a safer, kinder, and a more equitable place for them.
ABOUT THE BRAND
Black Russian Label is for the global, chic woman who is unapologetic, bold, and empowered by her genuine and authentic style. More than just a clothing brand, BRL is a fashion movement designed to disrupt the fashion system and challenge it to evolve its narrative of "beautiful" to include all cultures, races, shapes, sizes, ages, and gender. BRL is a curated brand made for real-size women and accentuates a woman's natural body shape while remaining stylish, polished, and breathable. We want women of all backgrounds to be seen, heard, and celebrated. We unconventionally fuse contrasting elements into artistic and versatile pieces that intend to inspire women to dress how they feel. The label has been worn by television anchors, R&B musicians, and fashion-forward women across the United States. A Black Russian woman is fearless, likes to be seen, and wants her clothes to make a statement each time she moves across a room.
Our clothes are designed to honor our BRL woman and her glorious silhouette while giving her a rightful place at the fashion tables and shifting the equitable distribution that currently exists in the fashion industry. Black Russian Label aims to open up the dialogue around Inclusion and Diversity in the Fashion industry and explore how all Fashion outlets can be more welcoming, honoring various lived experiences and narratives because now more than ever, representation matters!