Written by: D’Shonda Brown

The #ShopBlack Interview Series is a new installation that shines light upon budding and booming Black-owned businesses ran by millennials and Gen-Z’ers who are heavily influenced by hip-hop culture. Introducing Trenna Seney, a rising NYC-based designer and founder of VERY SHAMELESS whose rise to fame has been stapled by praise from model-entrepreneur Karlie Kloss and Grammy-award winning raptress Cardi B. Read below the in-depth interview between D’Shonda Brown and Trenna as they discuss bi-racial identification, hypersexualization, getting her threads on 2 Chainz and Flo Rida and feminism as a woman of colour.

Hi, Trenna! Pleasure to speak with you again! Tell us about VERY SHAMELESS and how you got your start in design?

 

Oh my God, thank you for interviewing me. Funny enough, I didn’t think I would ever do fashion. I really wanted to do jewelry and started out with making accessories. Not like buying it wholesale and reselling it, but I took metal-smithing classes at 92Y a few days a week. I even took classes at JCC (Jewish Community College) because they were inexpensive and sometimes the teacher would let me sit in on their classes for free. I worked in the Diamond District at Avianne & Co for a little while and thought that was what I wanted to do. In time, that passion faded and I was told to do something challenging. So I was like, “let me try clothing.” I never took a fashion course or class – I just did it. Very Shameless really started out as PUSSY POWER and that was the original name, but I switched it because as the brand grew and I was making pieces not just for women. I saw it fit to change the name.

 

Now, during Essence Beauty Carnival, I had the pleasure of wearing your “What Mark Are You Leaving?” bag to the event – and people went apeshit! This piece was inspired by Nipsey, as it said on your Instagram, but how has hip-hop culture influenced your designs?

I am so happy that you got that response, and of course that love your bag! Thank you again for ordering! I think Nipsey Hussle’s death hit ALL of us because it was so sudden and it just didn’t make any sense, like why him? It was really sad and I just sat in my room for a few nights and just listened to his music non-stop and I knew I had to pose a question to others so when they see it they really stop and think. So that’s how that bag came about. It was meant to touch you and I had to do the Nipsey Blue! I think that Hip Hop is Fashion and it has the biggest influence on the world period. The way hip hop influences me is always by the lyrics and wordplay. I let certain lyrics linger in my head and I think about it, then that idea might turn into painting on a bag or a jacket or maybe sewing a top – it all depends on the mood.

 

Your pieces are extremely vocal, but tastefully captivating. “Beauty Has No Skin Tone,” “Girl, Yes,” “Don’t Go Through Life Without a Hoe Phase,” – the list goes on! What’s the importance of telling your story through your brand as a woman of color?

As a woman of color, I think it’s important and essential for us to always be vocal on how we feel, and express it how we want. I personally love showing it through tees. My usual outfit is a pair of jeans or leggings and a tee, so I wanted my customers to love my comfy but stylish tees they can throw on. The tees are a way of saying what you want without even speaking. I want people to read your shirt and go, “Yeah!” or, “I love that or agree with it”. When someone takes a glance from looking at their phone and see you or whoever in my tee, I want them to read and feel a way.

 

Speaking of women of color, you’re a biracial millennial woman, much like Zendaya Coleman and Yara Shahidi, but yet you don’t shy away from either side of your ethnic background to conform or fit in with a particular side of your family. How has your duality assisted you in having a more cognitive understanding of Black culture?

 

Yes, I am biracial. My mom is Black and my dad is white, but I identify as a Black woman. I never felt like I ever had to pick a side. Like ever. I’m accepted how I am. I understand Black culture because I am black and I never had to defend that. My mom’s side is from Alabama, and I don’t know how much more Southern I can get.

I also was attracted to your brand because you create a safe space for men, women, LGBTQ+ and you even proudly expressed that proceeds are being donated to Planned Parenthood. How do you feel as an entrepreneur that you’re dedicating your platform – and your passions – in the right avenues?

 

It makes me feel good that I can give back. I don’t have tons of money like other fashion houses like Gucci or Louis Vuitton, but I know I wanted my brand culture to be about helping others while shopping.  It’s important to help others and be a blessing to others. So my customers know, “hey I’m buying this cool tee or bag, but I also helped pay for someone’s healthcare services.” I believe in good karma and to keep putting that out into the world. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just for one group of people like just women empowerment. I want everybody to feel one and know my brand is for them and us.

 Your exclusive collection with the Museum of Sex is bold and sexy and raw all at once – what was the message behind this collection? What do you feel is the importance of Black women being proud of their sexuality without the repercussions of being hyper-sexualized or chastised?

It still is a shock to me that I have a collection on 5th avenue at The Museum of Sex because I had it on my “Dream To Do List” for so long. I am so appreciative.  It was the buyer of the museum telling me they love my pieces, saw the images and asked me if I would be interested in collaborating. I was like “YES! Absolutely! Let’s do it”. I worked super close with the buyer and from my side, I had a few things that it had to be. I wanted it to be shocking and empowering, but I wanted it to make people stop, look and comment; that’s how “Good Pussy Is Dangerous” Tee came about. We saw it best to drop the Exclusive Collection in March for Women’s History Month. It consisted of tees, a pin set or separate pins, postcards and magnets. It sold out in 2 weeks; I was so shocked and happy people loved it so much. I couldn’t believe it. I have 0 employees and it’s like, “Wow, work I did really is being received well by NYC.”

We are currently restocking for the 3rd time for this month for Pride Month! Being a woman is a superpower. We are so strong and amazing in every way. It is incredibly important for Black women to be proud of their sexuality and break those stereotypes of being hyper-sexualized. There’s nothing sexier then a confident woman. Just let us be.

So, Cardi B is obsessed with your designs – and rightfully so! I know you probably get tired of explaining the story of how you two came about, but what did that encounter with such a prominent figure in the hip-hop space do for your brand? How did you know exactly what to make her?

 What a lot of people don’t know is that when Cardi was still dancing, I was the door girl at Sue’s Rendezvous, a strip club in Mount Vernon. I was the girl taking everybody’s money at the door to get in. I would work some weekends and I remember Cardi coming in as she’d check in and do her thing. She was always nice and spoke, but this was before she got famous and before she was even on Love and Hip Hop. I knew her makeup artist really well, and the idea came from her. She was like, “why don’t you make a jacket for Cardi?” This was before “Motorsport” dropped and I was like, “I definitely will.” We launched on June 17, 2017, but the first person to get a custom jacket was Cardi B in October, then in September, 2 Chainz wore it on his tour Pretty Girls Like Trap Music and Flo Rida followed in November.

I had no instructions, so I thought, “Okay, Cardi is so badass, she needs a leather jacket.” I studded it out with over 300 spiked studs by hand because she wants to be seen and she’s a rockstar. She loves being from The Bronx so I knew I had to add that in and that’s where the “Just A Girl From The Bronx” jacket came about. Her makeup artist hit me up saying, “I see Cardi in the next 20 minutes. Can you bring me her jacket?” So I sped to the Bronx from home, gave it to her and she made a video saying she loved it which I appreciate so much because she didn’t have to do that. I was just getting started, it was my first ever jacket and I remember going home and my car ran out of gas. This is when I was broke broke, but I was so happy ‘cause I knew that Cardi was going to get her jacket and everything was going to work! I was happily on the side of the road waiting for my dad to bring me gas.

Before we conclude this interview, we have to read the receipts! Karlie Kloss wore your brand on Project Runway; Scottie Beam wore your sweatshirt; you’ve been recognized by BET, Billboard, Snobette. You were even seen at the Project Runway finale front row – I mean, wow! What is next for VERY SHAMELESS?

 

I so appreciate everyone who wore my stuff from 2 Chainz to supermodel Karlie Kloss – it means a lot to me. I want my brand to get more out there and I am open to partnerships, new projects and letting the world know more about it. If you’re reading this and interested let me know!  I also have a BIG announcement. I will be opening a studio space but it’s in New Rochelle since I am a Westchester girl. It is for those who are nail techs and MUA’s who don’t have a place to do their services. It’s a cute, private space they can rent out for the day, the week or however long.

 This idea came to me because my cousin is a manager and MUA at Sephora, so her clients feel iffy about going to her house to get their makeup done. So, I thought this would be such a cool idea to have a space for people to have their clients. It’s inexpensive because they’re trying to make their money and their customers can feel comfortable. It’s another way I can help other people build their brand and have a safe place to be creative. I also want to do a docuseries and I’m calling it “GETTING MY NAILS DONE.” It’ll be on my YouTube channel and it’ll be cool to where we ask questions to girls who come in but it’s going to flow easy like when someone gets their nails done. You learn about them, what they do, and they get their nails done! I can’t wait to throw my ideas out into the world and see how you guys like it. Another business venture. Wish me luck!

Trenna can be found on Instagram, @LoveTrenna and, you can also shop her VERY SHAMELESS collection now available for purchase online on Instagram @VeryShameless or www.veryshameless.com .