Known for her vocal ability, in addition to her lineage as a member of the famous Clark-Sheard family, Kierra Sheard has been making her mark on music and the gospel industry since the young age of 17.
Aside from being a gospel sensation, Kierra also captured the hearts of many with her warm and bubbly personality on her family’s reality show”The Sheards,” where viewers saw Kierra not only as a gospel artist, but a Bachelor’s degree holding fashionista, who took charge of her life and spirit by making healthier lifestyle choices and embracing her body.
Kierra recently launched a clothing line called Eleven60 (her mother, Karen Clark-Sheard’s, birthday), that caters to full-figured women. With celebrity ambassadors such as Amber Riley, plus size bloggers, and many in the plus size fashion industry, JET decided to talk with Kierra about fashion, careers, and learning to love yourself.
JET: What inspired you to create a plus size fashion line?
Kierra Sheard: Well, I’m a plus size woman and I struggled [to] find things that were cute yet flattering to my body shape. I’m big into the fashions of people like Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Solange, and could never find similar styles in my size. I hated how what’s available in fashion for plus size women seems to be unflattering. I know women who even resorted to the men’s section just to find pants and tops that would fit them better. But why should we have to sacrifice femininity in order to find comfortable clothes? I wanted to change that.
JET: Where do you hope to take the brand in terms of expansion?
Kierra Sheard: I definitely want this line to be something that women across the world enjoy and want to be a part of. I also want to note the line isn’t just geared toward the Christian market. We’re going to have many different lengths, cuts, and designs in this line. I know everyone doesn’t dress like me, but I still want to maintain a certain level of class and tastefulness as far as the designs. But don’t think everything is going to have turtlenecks or be full length. I want women to be able to embrace their curves and feel like a woman in this line. I definitely want the line to explode.
JET: Building a brand is a lot of work. How has it been balancing your music and your fashion brand simultaneously?
Kierra Sheard: It is a lot of work! I didn’t realize that until I got into it, but I love it. I really have to be held accountable for how I spend my time and what I’m doing. There’s no room to slack off because I’m serious about both brands and don’t want to fall off on either one. It’s taken a lot of prayer and thought on how to balance both, but it’s been working. I have a lot of great business partners and supporters who keep me on track. But I enjoy it and i’m having fun when doing it and it keeps me occupied.
JET: Aside from your line, what’s next for you as far as music for you?
Kierra Sheard: Well, I’m currently going to school for my masters in psychology so that’s a slow but steady venture I’m on and I’m loving it. I want to eventually be in the place to offer psychology services to African Americans. I think mental health isn’t something we talk about in the Black community but we need to, so that’s where I’m hoping to go with that. But I’m also working on an EP that I hope to have out soon for my fans. With this record, I want to present Jesus to them in a fun and fresh way. So I think my fans will love the sound and direction. I’m going to continue to do panels and community events and I just focus on each goal and take steps everyday to achieve those goals.
JET: It seems like you a lot going on! How do you stay empowered when taking on multiple ventures?
Kierra Sheard: Being empowered means everything. Empowerment to me means you don’t turn everything into a competition and understand that there’s enough for everyone. Everyone can shine. There’s no need to compete for the spotlight or the fame. It’s about sisterhood and unity and respecting those who have trail-blazed before you. Instead of worrying about “who’s the best now,” honor those who made a way for you to get into the position you’re in and while you’re in that position, do the best work you can do. Empowerment is about believing in yourself and not having to undermine or play someone else in the process. It’s about being selfless and humble.