By Christina Marino
We had the opportunity to sit down with Reuben Reuel an up-and-coming designer and native of Virginia Beach about how he got onto Beyoncé’s radar and what he sees for the future of his brand Demestisks New York.
Q: How did you start designing?
A: My dad told me when I was about maybe three or four [that] I started to dress my own self and pick out my own clothes. I just always had the eye for fashion, but what really started my fashion career was in high school. I went to a vocational school for half of the day. We learned how to make patterns, how to sew – we learned everything there. I would say within that first year I already knew that I was going to study fashion for the rest of my life.
Q: You would also take design requests from women in church?
A: I just like to design things that are feminine and classic, so [church] had a major influence on my design for sure. In the beginning I started making things for my sister and my mom and women would ask about what my mom and my sister were wearing. Women would just come to me and ask me to make things custom for them. I would put my input of my own design aesthetic and that’s just how it trickled down from making clothes for clients in church.
Q: Do you have a specific outlet from which you get most of your inspiration?
A: I get a lot of inspiration from the ’70s and ’80s – it was the best time in fashion in my mind. Designers took more risks, even the people, the way they dressed, they took more risks. It’s always good to stick with the classics, so that’s where my inspiration derives from. I don’t really follow a lot of trends that happen per say. I just try to follow things that are more classic – that can be worn ten years from now.
Q: How did you get your name out?
A: Well, I opened my shop on Etsy, on August 6, 2012, not really knowing what was going to happen. The most social media I used at the time was Facebook and Instagram. I literally opened my Instagram account when I first started Demestiks New York and from there bloggers would find me on Etsy. [When] Googling my name I would see bloggers would have blogged about me – without even reaching out to the person. That’s pretty much how this whole thing has grown, it’s been a system of people finding me, I don’t have PR or press company that does that for me. I guess the clothes really speak for themselves.
Q: What was your immediate reaction when Beyoncé’s stylist requested some of your pieces? Did you mentally do a fierce Beyoncé strut?
A: I mean Beyoncé is the major celebrity. When stylists pull from designers you just really never know if it’s actually going to get used or worn. That’s just how my brain worked – if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I’m optimistic, but we’ll just see what happens.
Q: How did you hear that Beyoncé actually wore your pieces?
A: Well, the Saturday before she posted it on Instagram, the stylist did tell me that Beyoncé had been trying on [my] outfit all day. She wasn’t sure where shes gonna wear it [or]when shes gonna wear it, so I was just like, ‘OK, we’ll see!’
I was driving home from the [Demestiks New York] sample sale with one of my friends who was assisting me all day. One of my customers was on Instagram and she tagged me in a picture and she said, ‘Look Beyoncé’s wearing your outfit!’ Literally the top and the skirt I made–and I just screamed while driving and my friend told me, ‘pull over, pull over’, because I was like, ‘oh my god, oh my god.’
Q: Where do you see your line going? What would you like to see yourself accomplish with it?
A: I would like to see it turn into a major brand, pretty much a household brand. Demestiks New York is called [that] based on the fact that a lot of the fabrics that I purchase are bought domestically in New York City. Also, I produce here in [the city]. With Demestiks New York in the future I do want to nurture other young designers to pretty much make [it a place for] young designers [to] come together, create different things, sell online and have this community of domestic production.
Q: Do you have a mantra that you live by?
A: First of all, I always tell myself to trust in God everyday, no matter what I go through—[the] ups and downs. Secondly I tell myself: ‘live to create and create to live.’ It’s like my motto for Demestiks New York. I’m creating to live— to have a home, to eat food everyday, to hang out with friends—that’s what I do everyday. But, I also live to create. This is my destiny and this is what I do everyday. I’ve never seen myself doing anything outside of the fashion industry. It just goes hand-in-hand – create to live, live to create.