MAY 3rd, 2022
It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and the rear foyer of Up 2 Something Studios is adorned with never seen wardrobes created by Countess Brown. The color palette ranges from warm browns to earthy greens and sultry maroons. This earthly color palette compliments the 70’s inspired textiles spread on the rack right below the Up 2 Something sign. We are 11 days away from the Meté Fashion Exhibition produced by Countess and her team at the Red Rooster Pool Hall in Overtown, Florida.
Before getting into this interview, I think it is important to note that Countess is officially a member of Up 2 Something Studios, and since she has stepped in, she has not failed to add a new sense of light and creativity to the space. As a member, it's been quite exciting to see another woman-creative integrate within the space and implement different ideas. Throughout this interview, you will witness images from a shoot produced by the U2S team in promotion for Countess’s upcoming show. With the assistance of fellow Up 2 Something Studio Member, Lui Vigo and I were able to sit down with Countess to reintroduce who she is, the work she does, and all that leads up to her upcoming exhibit:
Lauryn: We are here at Up 2 Something Studios with fashion designer, Countess Brown as she is preparing for her fashion exhibition next Saturday. Today we're going to learn more about you and the work that you've been doing. So before we get into that, I want to talk about how we know each other and how we met. We met in 2019 while you were working on your MYŌŌZ Men’s collection. Am I correct?
Countess: Yes! First of all, thank you, Lauryn. You've been in my corner for a while.
Lauryn: Countess had put up a post inquiring for photographers to assist her with the shots of the progress that went into the MYŌŌZ Men’s collection. I remember wanting to dive more into behind-the-scenes photography, so I reached out to her. From there, it was history and my first time at Up 2 Something Studios was to assist her with the showcase.
Countess: I felt like at that moment I was at a vulnerable point because I still didn't have a team, and I'm like, who can I have to help me just capture this moment? I was still doing all the hard work in the back, but I just needed to be captured in that. I remember we went out to Biscayne and that was our first time doing the real shoot.
Lauryn: It was interesting to be there in that space to witness the drive you have and the passion you hold for the work that you're doing and how important it connects to all of us here. So I think it's a full-circle moment that now we're here doing this interview.
Countess: I do feel like everything that's going on in the universe happens for a reason. I'm excited, but then again, it's still those butterflies in my stomach. I try not to be nervous. I meditate more and breathe.
Lauryn: Who is Countess Brown? How would you describe yourself and the work that you do?
Countess: I always ask my mom why she named me Countess? She said it was because one day I was watching Sesame Street and Count was going through all of the numbers. She was like, oh, I like that name, but I think she was joking. She never really told me the real reason why, but I feel like the name embodies itself, and that was the main reason why I changed my brand to my name because it's my true identity. I want my grandkids to have this name as a legacy.
I’m a designer and a creator, but first, I am a mother, sister, friend, and someone you could create with. It’s so weird talking about myself. I feel like people should know that we are all humans. I'm not a machine. I'm not my sewing machine. I'm a person who curates the look for the machine to guide through, to make something of nothing.
Lauryn: When you're about to start a series, what does that process look like for you?
Countess: I smoke about it. I feel like every series that I have created is all about my experience in life. Where I see colors, where we’re at, but every time I travel, I see something different. I need to see more because every time I come back it's like a whole new idea that pops from inspiration.
Number one, music drives the frequency. I can't touch my sewing machine without putting music on. That's something that drives me and calms me down. I'm in a meditative state because I'm a Virgo and I’m always in my head. So instead of me being in my head, I have to have something else. It's all about feeling. It's like your senses, the smell, what you hear, and what you see. For instance, in this new series, for some reason, I've been time traveling back to the 70s. Even though it was a rugged time, I felt like artists and black people expressed themselves through our wardrobe; that was our freedom. So I am taking what I've seen in movies and music from that time. This collection has been in the works since last year. I took all that and created Meté, which is pretty much a line where I'm introducing familiar drapings and measuring it to now. I'm merging those gaps.
I want to see these divine men in nice fitted pants. We don't have to bag or sag. We get to the bag, but just being more comfortable in your skin too. I'm super excited because I have different artists that I'm working with who are models that are stepping into a whole different industry. So within the wardrobe and warping it to them; their characteristics come to life too. I love men and seeing them get out of their comfort zone.
Lauryn: Speaking of men, how do you go about focusing a line on men rather than on women or vice versa?
Countess: Throughout my whole career, I've been giving my women all of my attention. I love us too. We deserve the world, but we have to protect our men and make sure our men are good too. We are a team. So if we go out together, you have to look as fire as me. I feel like there are not many custom options for men. As women, we got all these outsources. I'm trying to do the same for men and will probably focus on men for the rest of the year. I'm not seeing myself creating for women yet, but I might, and we shall see. It's a learning experience for me because I'm a woman. I know how our bodies are shaped, but learning how a man's body is structured makes me appreciate them a bit more.
Lauryn: So would you say when you started creating fashion for men that it was you stepping outside of your comfort zone?
Countess: Yeah, me knowing that I wanted to perfect more on men, just silhouette and draping. I started going back to school last year. I am taking this seriously, and I want to perfect this to the point where I started going back to school to make sure that I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm reteaching myself a whole other skill.
Lauryn: What else drove you to want to go back to school? Was it just wanting to relearn or unlearn some things about your process?
Countess: Well, I always felt like everything I've been doing was the right way. My grandmother taught me how to sew, but she's from the island. She didn’t have the actual teaching skills. She knew how to put it together, where it can’t come apart and it looks good. That's the mindset that I taught myself. When I started school, my teacher, Ms. D, was like we are going to reprogram your whole mind because everything we've been doing has been backwards. So I have to work smarter, not harder this time. And it's easier now. I’m still learning.
Lauryn: Now that we share this creative space, how has your experience been working within Up 2 Something Studios? How has it impacted your process?
Countess: I've been through a lot of transitions within my life where I feel like it's never going to stop. We're always going to keep moving and find new places that we call home. First of all, I've been working with Up 2 Something Studios since back in the day. I feel like within the community here, it's easy for me to be more open with my heart because as you can see today. With this interview and the shoot coming up, I didn’t ask you for it. You guys pushed me to get in front of the camera.
So opportunities like that, I'm forever grateful for and just having a family within that work environment. I feel like the flow is easier because I'm only one person. I can do graphic design, I can do photography, I can do all that, but I can't do all that at the same time. I'm forever grateful for the Miami community and how we come together as creators down here.
We need to hone in on our superpowers. When we put that together, it just ignites. As you said earlier, it is a full circle. I love the feeling of a family because I never really had that within the working space. Now within the past seasons, I've been seeing it grow. I have a team now, and I have a digital team now. I'm forever grateful.
Lauryn: Can you talk to us more about your Metè Men's Fall Collection that you will be premiering?
Countess: This experience will be an experience that you should want to partake in because I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this collection. My team is fire. The visuals and the content, from sound to threads, are by far the most beautiful work I have ever created in my life. I'm 26, so let's see if I can top this. I'm always trying to out beat myself. I just want people to come there and just witness it. I don't want anything from no one. I'm just forever grateful to be a creative from south Florida, and I want to show out because I'm from here and what's a better place to do it other than in the black, historical land of Overtown? Red Rooster is in the middle of something that is trying to get gentrified and damaged.
Meté is short for metamorphism because within my life I feel like I change over time, but I kind of tweaked the word to Meté. Meté in my own words is to pretty much remeasure again to you because I'm bringing back something from the past. It shall measure to you again as a new form. Even though I'm creating bell bottoms from the 70s, it's going to have a more current effect on our type of bell bottoms. I'm just bringing all those vibes back into it. While still telling the story and spreading the message because I'm working with men, I want to spread the message of mental health. We partnered with a healthcare agency for the show, and they will be signing people up for free healthcare. So even though this is a showcase, this is something where people could sign up and benefit their daily lives, and we want to focus more on our men. I have a son, so by raising my son, I would want to be able to have this platform.
Lauryn: Is there anything you want to leave us with before we see you again on the day of the show?
Countess: Yes! Meté Men's Fashion Exhibition 2022 at Red Rooster from 5-8 pm. Tickets are on sale via Eventbrite. You can find it on my Instagram: @countess.brown