Ciara on her Dare To Roam brand and lifelong love of fashion

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Ciara, the singer and entrepreneur, has an entire fashion house with her husband, football superstar Russell Wilson, called The House of LR&C. But in August, she launched yet another brand, Dare To Roam, in partnership with creative agency Harper and Scott. Dare To Roam debuted with a direct-to-consumer model and a focus on antimicrobial backpacks, a product designed for the Covid era. And it just secured a coveted spot on this year’s Oprah’s Favorite Things list. Recently, the brand also expanded to Amazon. Its new holiday collection includes a weekender bag, a dopp kit, a laptop case and a tablet case. A pre-holiday collection included a fleece-lined “shacket” and a coordinating recycled nylon hat.

We spoke with the woman behind many brands about the role fashion plays in her life.

Have you always loved fashion?
“Fashion has always been a huge passion for me and a big part of how I express myself; it’s a big part of my identity, whether it’s on stage or just out and about moving throughout my daily life. When I put on a garment or a piece that I really like, it just helps me to express myself and how I’m feeling for the day. I’ve always had an incredible love for it. I watched my grandma — she always had her custom, tailored outfits. She had her own seamstress. It was really fun to see, and I think it rubbed off on me.

When you started Dare to Roam, you already had a number of existing fashion brands. Why did you want to create this one?
“It’s been amazing to have my own fashion house, The House of LR&C, with my husband. And to be able to work in this space has been a dream come true. I’ve been having the time of my life.

When the opportunity with Dare To Roam came along, I wanted to continue to express my creativity. There is a fashion twist to the backpack, [so] you can express yourself even through a backpack that you rock.”

Where do you get your inspiration?
“You go through different seasons. Sometimes it’s all about the mood you’re in — for me, when I’m making an album, my music inspires me and how I want to look. It’s like, ‘OK, these songs are making me feel this way. This is the vibe I want to be on, from a fashion perspective.’ Life inspires me, and sometimes others inspire me — like when I’m walking around in the streets of New York or the streets of Atlanta, where I came from. I see people walking around from all different ethnic backgrounds and rocking all different kinds of styles in a super-expressive way. I get inspired by that. The beauty of fashion is that the inspiration can come from so many different places. Sometimes it’s really in the moment: You have a vision for something or an encounter with something that happens in life, and you’re like, I’m really inspired by this moment. I’m going to go back to the drawing board.’ That’s the beauty of fashion.”

What lessons have you learned about the business?
“Obviously, I came from the space of being an artist before I got this great opportunity to be able to build a business in the fashion space. And sometimes, because of that creative mind, you have to have discipline and timelines. In fashion, timelines don’t wait for you. In music, I can be like, ‘I want to push this album back; let’s do it in a couple of weeks.’ But it’s like, ‘No, you have Nordstrom prepared for the drop on this day.’ You’ve got to make [a certain] time for fashion. So there’s that discipline that you learn when you get the chance to be involved on the business side. Now, I’ve mastered the discipline — I had no choice but to master it pretty early on in the process. But it’s been really fun learning and taking on the challenges that the business side of it all brings you.”

You worked with a company called Harper and Scott on Dare To Roam. How did that come about?
“I got to connect with the Harper and Scott team at the beginning of the pandemic. And we actually have a mutual relationship through my agency at CAA, and mutual friends. And so I got the great pleasure of connecting with the founders, Jon Alagem and Michael Scott. There was this cool opportunity to talk about creating backpacks together. I love their vision, I love their approach. I love how they build out businesses. I love how involved they are and how passionate they are.

With Dare To Roam, we wanted to make sure we were doing something special, being very conscious of the times that we’re living in. And that’s where the antimicrobial technology came in. We all share the same vision about what we want to do in this space. We also talk about the idea of trying to create impact through it all — hence why we have a giveback component.” [Three percent of sales go to the Why Not You Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Ciara and Russell Wilson to fight poverty through education.]

You started with backpacks, but you just launched a jacket. Will the brand be launching more apparel?
“We [launched] the ‘shacket,’ as we call it. It’s like a shirt-jacket mix, and there’s this cool opportunity to match with your bag, if you want to. This is our starting point, and it’s a cool layer. [For now] we’re just having a little fun. It’s a holiday collection.”

 

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