HARTFORD, Conn. — All eyes are on a Hartford-native’s fashion line.
Travis Terry, 23, came up with the IEMBE brand in 2019 when he realized he needed a bag for his upcoming spring break trip.
Travis canceled the trip and decided to use his refund check from his school to get the ball rolling on his new fashion line.
He came up with the IEMBE name in his Clark Atlanta University dorm room, which plays off the popular saying “in my bag”.
“It’s clever and it’s like a double entendre,” Travis said. “Not only saying I sell bags, but it’s also our slogan of being confident, in your zone and on your grind.”
Travis launched the IEMBE collection in January 2020, and after some trial runs with the designs, he began working with a manufacturer to roll out the first pieces.
“I knew from the first moment I saw the bag – we all knew it was going to take off and it was going to be something we had a hit with,” Travis said. “For us to have this first design take off – and there are so many designs in my notebook that I haven’t even touched yet – we know this is going to be something big, that’s bigger than all of us.”
When it comes to branding, it’s a family affair.
Travis used his sister as the face of his brand, but when she was unavailable for a shoot, he went for the next best thing, his mom, Lavern Terry.
Lavern modeled his clothing pieces, but it was the photoshoots featuring the IEMBE bags that really struck gold online.
“That blew up overnight,” Travis explained. “I feel like that was the best decision I could have ever made, using my mom. My mom is 60 years old and that’s like, the best marketing tool ever. It also inspires women her age to know that they can be in that type of industry as far as modeling and boosting their confidence as well.”
Lavern, who has no modeling experience, said she was excited to help her son and thought of it as a great way to help her break out of her shell.
She received a great deal of praise from others online about how she nailed the photoshoots.
“I think I was the happiest person in the world that day,” Lavern said. “I was looking at Facebook – that’s all I have is Facebook, I’m not good with the other internet things – I was looking at Facebook and I knew I was blowing it out of the water. Then [Travis] showed me the other stuff and I was like wow! I was amazed but I was also happy for him.”
Travis said his mom has a strong background that many people do not know about, and that’s why he’s especially happy to bring her along for the ride.
“Bringing her along for the journey has been the best part of this all,” Travis said. “Knowing that she’s enjoying this, she’s growing from this and getting the light that she deserves, it’s been very heartwarming and it’s the best decision I could’ve ever made. She deserves it. She’s going to come to the top with me, that’s my best friend.”
The viral photos helped garner more attention to the IEMBE brand.
“When I put the products online, they go within 10-20 minutes," Travis said. “The first time, it was eight minutes. My email subscription has gone from like 300 to 20,000 overnight and that’s within the three months of having the bag online.”
Travis' fanbase wasn’t only growing among his regular customers. Some celebrities have also caught wind of his unique designs.
Cardi-B retweeted the viral photos featuring Lavern as the face of the brand, saying she felt honored to be the inspiration behind the shoot.
Other celebs have been seen sporting IEMBE’s clothing line including Rick Ross, Fabolous, Jordyn and Jodie Woods, rapper YK Osiris, and more.
As his brand grows, Travis has his eyes on the future.
“I want to see myself in Saks Fifth Avenue. I want to see Beyonce wearing the bag, that's a number one goal and dream of mine,” Travis said. “I want to see it in Bloomingdales. I want to start a non-profit organization called IEMBE Cares, just to give back to my community. It's only the beginning – I'm only two years in – and what I've done in the last year alone is going to blow people's minds five years from now. It's going to be a staple that's not going anywhere anytime soon. So, everybody get used to seeing IEMBE everywhere."
IEMBE bags can be worn as a handbag, crossbody, backpack or as a clutch.
Click here for more information.
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