Fashion Designer Vara Ayanna Is the Thrift Queen

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Ayanna's title as "Thrift Queen" surpasses the scope of any normal nickname. When combined with her love of up-cycling clothes, a vision was born.

"Thrift Queened spawned out of a lot of things that happened in my life at that time," says Ayanna. "I was leaving to go to school in New York, but then I wasn't able to go and I had already quit my job. I thought, okay what am I going to do with my life?" Ayanna was always into fashion and had been sewing since she was little, so she thought she might as well start her own clothing line.

"I thought, what if people got thrift queened? I love up-cycling," she says, "But I think of it as remaking the whole garment, so that's what I decided to do."

Ayanna and her small team of creatives quickly put something together for her first editorial shoot just two short weeks after the brand's conception. Fast forward to several months later: Thrift Queened was featured in L.A. Fashion Week, has provided styling for multiple music videos, and hosted a party at Buffalo Exchange in Tempe. In March, the up-cycled line, full of custom hats, dresses, vests, shirts, and more, turns a year old.

At the root of all of her creations, Ayanna's inspiration comes from simply loving clothes. "That's the very bottom line: It's obsession."

In an ideal future, there will be Thrift Queened secret, invite-only shops all over the world. "I want it to become art more than something that you just wear. That's what fashion should be."

The way Ayanna sees it, to get where you want to be you have to be absolutely yourself, do everything you've ever wanted to do, and put all you've got into it. That means surrounding yourself with creative people, making friends, going out, and creating new experiences.

"Don't worry about what other people are thinking," she says. "They're not going to get you anywhere anyway."

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Andie Flores