What could be more fun than running a business with one of your best girlfriends? Running a fashion line with one of your best girlfriends, duh! Shianne Winston and Jasmine Peters have been BFF’s for 22 years and are living the dream as the dynamic duo who run Philthy Ragz; the premier location for edgy, sexy clothes in Los Angeles.
Although they’re both only 25, Philthy Ragz isn’t their first take at entrepreneurship. In fact, Shianne and Jasmine had the business bug as preteens when they had a neighborhood babysitting service. Now as start-up savvy women, they can tell you a little something about what all it takes to keep a business booming. These girls GRIND. From sweeping floors and planning events to managing their online store and styling celebrities, these ambitious besties have their hands completely immersed in the Philthy pot. We had the chance to sit down with the Directors of Operations (just one of their titles) right after the launch of their Garden of Eden line to talk a little bit about sisterhood, entrepreneurship and what makes them “Philthy”.
Jasmin Martin: Where did the name “Philthy Ragz” come from? What does it mean?
Shianne Winston: The term Philthy Ragz came from a Bible verse my mom found. Isaiah 63 says, “we’re all nothing but a filthy rag”. The person wearing the clothes holds the power, not the garment itself. So be the best you can be and let your personality radiate humility, love, kindness, sex appeal or whatever through your clothes.
JM: So how did you two meet up? It must be so much fun to work in fashion with your best friend.
SW: We’ve known each other since preschool and we instantly bonded.
Jasmine Peters: It’s great to work with someone with the same business mind that you have. We’re on the same page and aspire to have the same things, so it’s cool.
JM: Shianne, your mom Ms. Gaynelle is the store owner and the designer for Philthy Ragz. I’m sure she cuts you a little slack, being the boss’ daughter.
SW: Oh, no! Even though it’s my family business and we both love working here and it’s our baby, my mother and I see Philthy Ragz as a business. I work with my mom not for my mom. She knows how to deal with me as her daughter, but once she comes in here, it’s boss mode and we have a job to do. I don’t take advantage of her being my mom and assume someone else can just pick up my slack. That’s not even my personality. So I’m working hard to keep this thing growing so we can achieve bigger and better things.
JP: People think that when you work at a store all you do is sell clothes. The stores sell themselves, we don’t have to do that. We’re involved in every aspect of making sure that the store and the brand are being run to standard. Gaynelle put her blood, sweat and tears into this business and trusts us to help further her vision. She guides us and works with us, but also gives us a lot of room to make decisions. It’s more of a collaboration.
JM: Tell me a little bit about the typical day at Philthy Ragz.
SW: *laughs* There is no typical day. Every day could be something different. We could make a to-do list and think that’s what we’re going to work through and it could be a completely different story. One day we might walk in and my mom will say, “we’re having a pink party today, we just received 25 pink dresses” and the plans immediately change.
JP: Right, like we can get a call in the middle of the night like, “so and so celebrity wants to come by the store at 8 AM to pick up her dress”. That’s not what we were prepared for, but we get it together to make it happen. You have to be flexible to work here.
SW: You have to take initiative and have the personality to be flexible, open minded, innovative. We aren’t micro managed and we don’t have the time to micromanage, so there’s a lot of trust that goes into working here and getting things done.
JM: What do you think separates Philthy Ragz from shopping at a Nordstrom or other store? What brings people to Philthy Ragz?
SW: Our customer service. People CHOOSE to shop Philthy Ragz because we don’t treat our clients like they’re just customers. We make them feel comfortable, like they’re our girlfriends. When clients walk in it isn’t “Welcome to Philthy Ragz” as much as it is “ hey girl, hey! Where you going this weekend? Let’s get you in something fly…”. It’s important to us that our clients can relate to us and feel comfortable with us. We won’t just send you to a rack and hope you find an outfit. We actually care that you look and feel good in what you’re wearing and we’re here to help you find that. We’ve giving them a styling experience.
JP: Customer experience, for sure. I also think that people shop us because of how frequently we get in new inventory and how unique our designs are. Gaynelle puts a lot of effort into finding things that are different. She’s into creating things you won’t see anywhere else. She isn’t looking to follow the trends out there -- she's setting the trends.
JM: That’s awesome. There needs to be more positive interactions amongst women, especially when we’re self conscious about how we look when trying on clothes. We could definitely use that support. Speaking of support and female empowerment, what’s a word of advice you would have to a young lady who was considering entrepreneurship but was afraid to leave the safety of her 9-5 to follow her passions?
JP: Do what makes you happy. At our age, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of doing everything by the book. You don’t have to do the college, grad school, corporate job thing if it doesn’t make you happy. Don’t do what you think you have to do to please other people, please yourself.
JM: Do you ever feel like because you are so successful at such a young age that clients, vendors or other business women don’t take you as seriously?
JP: Oh, it happens all the time. Standing your ground at 25 is important in demanding respect from people in business. Sometimes people will ask to speak with the manager and I’ll tell them I’m the manager, but if they would like to talk to Shi, I can refer them to her. Then when they see she’s young too, they’re just as shocked that she would be the next best thing. It’s like people assume I don’t know what I’m doing or that I’m not capable of doing this well because I’m younger than them. If it makes you more comfortable to speak with someone older who you feel you would respect more, that’s fine, but know that they will tell you the same thing I’m saying.
JM: Which celebrities have been seen rocking Philthy Ragz?
SW: Claudia Jordan was seen in our yellow Mackenzie dress on the red carpet at the BET Awards.
JP: Brooke Bailey from Basketball Wives, Michel’le from R&B Divas, Angela Simmons, Draya, Melanie Fiona,Tahiry, Meagan Good. We've also dressed some of the cast from the upcoming series of Love & Hip Hop LA.
SW: We do a lot of reality TV shows and sometimes we can’t talk about who was wearing our clothes until the show airs. We work with a lot of executives and business women who come in and get dresses to wear behind-the-scenes and not on the red carpets. We also see our clothes in a lot of photoshoots.
JM: Who would be your dream client to dress?
S&J: BEYONCE! *laughs*
JM: Who is the typical Philthy Ragz customer?
JP: The type of clients we have are looking to stand out and they’re the trendsetters of their crew. They aren’t afraid of wearing a bold color, or shying away from something because of their age, the length of the dress or their dress size. A woman who shops Philthy is confident.
JM: How do you think you’ve grown from your experiences from working at Philthy Ragz?
SW: To work here is to be multifaceted and know that you can get asked to do things that aren’t necessarily your thing, but you have the determination to get those things done.That’s applicable to anything in life. Perseverance is like a lifelong skill. We can troubleshoot and problem solve and we’re proactive instead of reactive. Like Jas literally built our website in 2 days. She didn’t know anything about computers, but she did it.
JP: *laughs* yea. It’s comforting to know that from working here, I feel like I can get handed anything and I can handle it.