This Wednesday night I attended Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) Conversations with June Ambrose event at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. HFR is a company founded by HFR’s CEO Brandice N. Henderson interviewed June Ambrose on stage and chatted about everything from June’s first styling gig, childhood and how to be professional in an unprofessional environment. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have included a few highlights and tidbits below.
On June’s first styling job…
Hype (Williams) was like why are you here? She was the director of marketing for Cross Colors. Did product placement and creating marketing plans. She started working on R Kelly’s Down Low music video before MTV was playing black music. I was going to bring a costume design aesthetic to black music. It was about a cinema… that’s where June Ambrose was born
On working with Jay-Z….
I worked with Jazy-Z from inception he is to date my “best friend” if he took a job it was ‘June is doing the job or I’m not doing it.’ It’s different now… what I do has become publicized… there’s so many more of “me” and a lot of “you’re an artist your sister likes fashion your mother likes fashion… you’re going to keep the money in-house”
On clients leaving her…
I don’t even worry about it I just keep on. You know your self-worth you don’t worry about things going away.
On her first job ever at Kentucky Fried Chicken…
I had this job for 2 days… thought I would work at the register and the manager said I need you to go back and clean chicken. He called my mom saying ‘oh she’s spoiled.’ That is just not what I needed to do.
On using social media for branding…
Your social media is an extension of your résumé. You’re cussin. It becomes this reality ratchet moment. You don’t know where you are going to be 5 years from now. I treat my company like a corporate company. I’m taking you around high-profile people. Corporate America did that to me. And I’ve spent a lot of time being wall papered… and I’m the only sober person in the room. Social media is your editorial platform. I am the Anna Wintour of my own… (social media).
On her down moments and biggest challenges in life…
I was raised in the Bronx in a one bedroom apartment. Moved from St. Croix. Older sister is a nurse. My first name is Junemarie. Mom’s thing was get an education get a job. When you see your mom cry for the first time cause you couldn’t pay the rent it makes you say ok get out. I don’t have childhood friends what happened was I decided I was gonna get out and kind of didnt’ look back. My mom would take us downtown… (and I)… fell in love with Manhattan at a very young age.
On if she will return to VH1 for a second season…
June says she felt she had so much more to offer than creating this “drama content” that they needed to produce. Getting into a fight etc. She was afraid of that and basically, will not be returning to VH1 for a second season. “VH1 is not a network known for doing fashion…I just don’t have a space on the network and the content, it’s just not the place for me.” June said, however, that she will be returning to television later in the year for the launch of her footwear line on HSN. Check out the video of June speaking about this below.
I truly admire June for her hard work, ethic (i.e. 7:30 AM is sleeping in), and that she is in my opinion, a respectable black woman in fashion. I applaud you June for not doing another season with VH1 or falling in line with their needed “drama content.” You said that one of your biggest fears was not being relevant. Well, June, I think it’s safe to say that if you keep it up, that will never happen.
Photo Credit: Jessie Adore and Josh Woods