Raemia Higgins has traveled all over the United States in the name of sneakers…well mostly for her job, but also sneakers. With a 20+ kicks collection, this hardworking and passionate fashion enthusiast has worked for some of the top brands in the industry.
The day of the shoot, Raemia came rolling in sporting the coolest cowgirl pantsuit. She started off a bit shy saying she’s usually behind the camera but as soon as the lights flashed, it was apparent she was a natural. Halfway through she took a break to order the latest hot pink Telfar bag because, priorities.
Not only did we bond over our mutual love of fashion, we chatted about Indy’s creative scene, her life at Finish Line, and the next big goal she wants to check off her list.
It’s nice to finally meet you, still virtual, but nonetheless! For those who don’t know, please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your background.
I’m from Kentucky and went to college at Western Kentucky University where I majored in Design, Merchandising, and Textiles. I went through college, graduated, and I thought my dream job was going to just land in my lap, which was not the case. I didn’t want to stay in Kentucky so I moved to Atlanta where I worked at Henri Bendel and a cute little boutique and then I got a call about a job back in Kentucky at Fruit of the Loom. It was in merchandising and product development. I was there for three and a half years, then moved to Savannah, Georgia to work in allocations at Citi Trends, turned down a buying job to New York, and then came here! I feel like I’ve been a little all over the place. I’ve been in every single fashion role, in regards to corporate fashion. I’ve done product development, merchandising, buying, allocations, so now I’m able to say ‘If I don’t want to stay in buying, what do I want to do next?’
Outside of that of course I’m a wardrobe stylist, which is what I say is my side hustle but really it’s just my passion project. I love styling! It’s my favorite thing in the world. If I could get paid big bucks to be a stylist, that’d be a dream come true.
Within the corporate realm of jobs that you’ve had, what’s been your favorite gig?
I absolutely adore what I’m doing now. Buying is so much fun! We get to travel to Nike’s World Headquarters, all the offices: Adidas, Champions, Vans. But I really miss merchandising and trend forecasting. When I was doing that for Fruit of the Loom, we would work seasons ahead. I would be looking at trends two years ahead. We would get these beautiful books from our European team that’d be full of laces and different fabrics and you could see the key colors, what’s going to be really popular, etc. We would then be able to implement that into our designs so by the time that season came around, our product reflected the trends. I really miss trend forecasting in that aspect. I get to do it a little bit here because I’ve voiced how important trend forecasting is, especially for buyers.
I took a trend forecasting class in college and it really takes a special person to work in that field because you have to be plugged in. You need to understand not only what’s going on in the fashion world but the food industry, music industry, interior design all of it coincides in the Zeitgeist.
Yes, it does!
Well, kudos to you for really enjoying it and stepping into that role. So you’re from the Midwest but not originally from Indiana. What are your thoughts on Indiana?
It’s different! Indianapolis is interesting in how close it is to Chicago, but I miss being in a city where there’s constantly something to do. But I will say I think the creatives here in Indy have come together. Pre-pandemic you saw the creative culture really start to emerge, putting on more events, more pop-up shops, more boutiques and businesses opening that catered to us creatives. I’ve been here for almost three years now, and it’s grown so much. Seeing how Indiana has transitioned from being another city in the Midwest to a fashion state for creatives where people are actually paying attention to, I appreciate that.
That’s a big part of what PATTERN’s been doing for the last decade now and it seems like more recently things have finally started moving forward. With that, what are your thoughts on the fashion industry here?
It’s definitely growing. I will say when I first moved here, it felt a little cliquey and felt like you had to know the right people to get into the right events. It’s all about connecting and networking with the right people. I would love to see it be more inclusive and to have more awareness. There are so many events that go on, like the PATTERN Launch Parties. To me, the launch party was my reason to get dressed up and meet other photographers, stylists, designers, you name it. There’s still a lot of people that don’t know that this is going on. I think it’s going to take us fashionistas and creatives to come together and get the word out to make it even bigger.
Completely agree! Shifting back to what you do at Finish Line HQ, what does your job entail?
I’m the associate buyer on the women’s apparel team and my manager is the senior buyer. She manages Nike, Adidas, and Champion accounts. I do our fashion/trendier brands because that’s very much my personality. We’re hand in hand working to put together the assortments you see in stores. If you were to walk into a Finish Line or JD Sports right now and you looked at the apparel for women, that is what I do. I go to all of the brand’s offices and see what they’re offering for whichever season I’m buying for. They’ll show us color palettes and samples and sometimes we get to design our own pieces. I actually just designed a capsule for Champion, which will only be sold at JD, Finish Line, and on Champion.com. It’s amazing when your designs sell out, are on billboards, or social media ads! It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work.
Do you have a dream brand you would like to be the buyer, merchandiser, or designer for?
I would love to venture to high-end. I really like athletic specialty and within my current role I manage the Ivy Park business, which is awesome, but it’s so Beyonce team-driven and less creative collaboration.
I think a dream collaboration to work with would be Jerry Lorenzo. I’m drawn to him and his aesthetic and who he is as a person because he’s so genuine and firm in what he believes in. He believes in the art and the science behind it but he always makes it a point to incorporate God into everything.
You’re a buyer by day and a stylist by night. How long have you been styling and can you tell me about some of your PATTERN shoots?
I’ve been seriously styling for 4 years. It’s something I’ve always done. When I was in college I knew I wanted to be a stylist. I did not want to go into buying because it was way too analytical for me. I like to think I have the best of both worlds! Styling for editorial has so much creativity, which is my jam! I love editorial because I get to make the rules if there are any.
As far as my shoots for PATTERN, that was my goal. My first fashion event was the 2018 launch party and I made it a point to meet Polina. Literally, 6 months later, I’m in PATTERN Magazine for the Indiana Fashion Week shoot. It was such a full-circle moment because that was a really big personal goal for me. Being featured multiple times now has been amazing.
That makes me so happy to hear! I love it when people’s dreams come true. Do you have any other goals you’re working towards?
Yes, I have so many goals, so many projects! I’m the lead stylist for Indiana Fashion Week and we have a shoot coming up. I do have some collabs with brands who want more of a stylist’s perspective and one is launching in May. There’s also a really big project I’m working on at Finish Line. I can’t really speak too much about it but with everything that went on last year and all the social injustice, this is our way of being a little part of the change. It’s probably the thing I’m most excited about!
If you had to choose between fashion styling and corporate buyer, which would you choose?
I think…there’s no think…I know it would be styling. I say that because I love buying, I love my job, and my manager’s the best. But styling is one of those things where when I’m on set, that’s where I feel the best version of myself. There’s this rush that I don’t get with any other thing I’ve done and I’ve done some pretty cool things.
Speaking of styling, you have amazing personal style. Where are your go-to places to shop?
All over! My secret weapon is Amazon. Everyone’s telling me I need to create an Amazon Shop because I find the most amazing shoes, clothing, bags. I’m definitely a Zara girl and I also love European websites like Pretty Little Thing and Misguided. I also love thrifting and pairing high-end with low-end and making a cohesive outfit. I’m a little all over the place and of course JD Sports, Finish Line, I shop there too!
Is there anything else you want to add?
As a fashion enthusiast, creative, aspiring designer, stylist, whatever, do not let your location keep you from following your dreams. Do not let people make you feel like you have to be in New York or LA to be successful in the fashion industry, that’s not true. I’m currently based in Indianapolis, IN and I’ve met the who’s who of top executives of Nike, Adidas, etc. You meet so many different people in the industry that I’m in that it doesn’t matter where you live. A lot of times these people have teams that work remotely. Don’t let your location keep you from fulfilling your dreams.
A lot of people ask me how I got into buying. It all started with me visiting my college advisor after I graduated. She told me she thought I’d be great at merchandising and that I should look into Fruit of the Loom. I didn’t want to move back to Kentucky at all but taking that job was the best that I could’ve ever done for my career because sometimes you have to go what you consider as backwards to jump super far ahead where you ultimately want to be.
Where do you ultimately want to be?
I am such a New York girl. I honestly think I could do New York or LA, that’s ultimately the goal. Even if it’s still with JD Sports or Finish Line, but I’d love to be in a bigger city.