Trial & Error: How Discovering My True Sense of Style Helped Me to Find Me

LOVING ME DAILY SERIES PRESENTS-  My Interview with Fashion Stylist, Leroya Trenis Brackins

I began a series a few months back titled, “Journey to Loving me, Daily.” The original intent was a seven week self-love journey before the concept evolved into a broader series that includes interviews and personal testimonies.

I met Leroya Trenis Brackins at church. She was leading Praise and Worship during service. The first thing I notice, besides her incredible voice was her eccentric sense of style: bold hair colors, eclectic flowing skirts with printed tops, and honey…. the shoe game!!!

I admired her stylishness that exuded confidence in every way, a declaration of being unashamed and a compliment to her bright and contagious personality. A few weeks back, I came across Transformation Tuesday post on Facebook. It was a before and after photo of herself, captioning the before as the way she thought people expected her to look and the after being her true self. In both pictures, she is beautiful. However, in the after photo, there was a noticeable difference of confidence and freedom, a testament that when we are being our true selves we feel our best, and it shows. I was determined to interview her, knowing her journey could perhaps, inspire someone else. A few weeks ago we met up at a restaurant and made it happen.

Currently living in Fort Worth by the way of Houston, LeRoya described her childhood as pleasant. Life wasn’t hard or rough. Her parents made sure she had the best of everything. Though, her parents divorced when she was ten, she never dealt with the conflict one often witness in the aftermath of divorce. In fact, she elucidates she never knew of any issues between her parents until they set her down for “the talk.” She does recall feeling left out during her childhood. Her sisters were twins and always had one another. She did, however, “make it her business to forge her own path, so that she would, even then, be noticed.” Just as any young person, she sought attention. She admits, sometimes, she didn’t make the best decision. Even growing up, Leroya knew she was different. While most students were in their jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, she’d strut into school with dresses and heels. Though, when she hit late teens and early-twenties something changed. She began to feel the urge to want to be like everybody else, and try to fit in. As expected, it didn’t work.

Her journey to rediscovering her individuality began when she accepted her call to preach. Her first sermon she was dressed like the before picture, a conscious expectation of how a female minister should present herself. One Sunday, after she finished preaching, an elder woman approached her, her eyes trailing Leroya from head to toe. “What is this?” the woman asked, referring to her put together female minister attire. Before that time, Leroya didn’t have a female presence in her life that was real with her. “The women around me were extra saved and lacking realness.”

“The women around me were extra saved and lacking realness.”

Leroya

Her father, a prominent pastor wasn’t able to assist with certain things because, as a man, he understandably could not relate to the issues of a woman. He did, however, place women in her path to assist. Conversely, she recalls these women attempting to manipulate and dictate her life, wanting her to be whom they thought she should be. That pivotal day, the elder woman expressed she could tell Leroya was uncomfortable in that attire. “I’m sick of this!” Leroya recalls her stating. She expressed how the outfit wasn’t her and she needed to pray and ask God, who she was. And after confiding in close friends, “a light bulb went off” and Leroya knew it was time for a real change.

ME:  What would you say is the major difference between the Leroya in the before picture and the Leroya in the after, besides your style of dress?

LEROYA: Freedom of mind and then the knowledge because people… and I’m not church-bashing by any means, I’m just telling the truth,  people in the church have a way of trying to make you feel like they’re the only somebody that has a walk with God or a relationship with God.  They’ll come to you and tell you, God told me to tell you and that’s fine. You know, it happens all the time. However, I have my own personal relationship with God. So, when God sends (a message) through other people, it’s usually confirmation that He’s already spoken to me.

I have my own personal relationship with God. So, when God sends (a message) through other people, it’s usually confirmation that He’s already spoken to me.

Leroya

You know, you’re not just going to come out with some new stuff that I ain’t never heard and I’m just supposed to accept it because you slapped the Lord’s name on it. That’s supposed to get you to scare me into doing it. It’s a manipulation tactic and now, I’m able to recognize it. So, freedom of mind, increased discernment, stronger spiritual connection with God… so that I can tell the real thing from the fake.

 

 ME: Has changing your sense of style helped you in regard to being who you are as a person?

LEROYA: Absolutely! It sounds cliché, but its true, if you are not being true to who are you are, you will have a hard time leading and guiding people on how to be themselves.

If you are not being true to who are you are, you will have a hard time leading and guiding people on how to be themselves.

Leroya

Again, I’m not trying to bash the church, but in the church, there is this desire to feel untouchable. I always wanted to be able to look up to someone (in leadership) and ask, how did you get there?

Once I came into myself, it made me a lot more relatable. In the church there is so much, I am this, I am that… it doesn’t help anybody when they are hurting. So many people tell me, I didn’t think you would talk to me. My appearance before (the transformation) made people think that. Perception is sometimes all people have to go on. Freedom of mind was another thing. Because I was just getting started, I only had people that were appointed to me. As I grew, God sent me people who were assigned to me.

Because I was just getting started, I only had people that were appointed to me. As I grew, God sent me people who were assigned to me.

Leroya

They were older, but not so much older that they couldn’t pour into me. Another thing is, knowledge and increased discernment.

 

ME: Is there anyone in your life that you look up to and admire and why?

LEROYA: (pauses in pensive thought) Yeah, I would say, as far as my main inspiration is my dad. I was trying to pick somebody else, but… Why, because he is who he is and always has been, who he is. Even when he stuck out like sore thumb, even when people laughed at him and made fun of him, talk down on his vision and dreams… He never lost his identity and was never wrapped up into pleasing or appeasing his critics, you know. And, it wasn’t necessarily about him proving them wrong, it was him walking by faith and letting God prove them wrong. And so, one of the positive personality straights I think I picked up on is being myself in spite of whatever. Walking my own walk and not being concerned about what you think or what you have to say.

And then, I had to learn not to lash out.  Everything doesn’t deserve a response. You don’t have to address every time your name is in somebody’s mouth or every time you hear a rumor. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when confrontation is important… again, discernment. You have to choose your battles and some just aren’t worth it. Just walk your walk and let God prove your critics wrong.

Just walk your walk and let God prove your critics wrong.

Leroya

ME: What advice would you give to your younger self?

LEROYA: How much younger? (laughing)

ME: Late teens, early twenties.

LEROYA: To my teenage self, I would say, think first. To my early to mid-twenties self, I would say, (pauses in thought) I would say, don’t allow others to compromise your path because a lot of that happened in my twenties. Don’t try to walk a path of another just because your path isn’t popular.

ME: You have styling company named, Eclectic Sparkle. What inspired you to start this?

LEROYA: (Laughs). Well, I would get phone calls, text messages, inboxes and stuff (where people would inquire), where did you get this or that… typical woman stuff. Then, it turned into, can you find this, can you find that? I’m like, okay…. And then, it was, can you make me this? And I’m like, wait a minute now, ya’ll gonna have to start paying me (while laughing). It was really, I hate to say this, but it was something that was always in my mind, however, what really spurred it to go forward was, I was tired of being used. People who know me, know that all somebody has to tell me is they need it and I’m on it. And sometimes, even now, even though I’m in business, I’ll still do it. I haven’t received a deposit, but I will start working on it, just because it’s in my nature to do it. But, that’s really what it was birthed out of.

 

ME: What are three things you wished people knew about you?

LEROYA: (Laughs) I am a nerd, not Star Wars and science fiction, but when it comes to music. I know certain things about certain artist and certain types of music. Sometimes, people be like, whaat? A guy actually stopped dating me once; he was like, your musical taste is just way too out there. I don’t pigeonhole myself. I’m a church girl, but I like it all. If its good, if it makes me feel good…. I’m big on lyrics, if its saying something, I’m going to listen to it.

Um, (laughs), let’s see, I’m a crybaby, extremely sensitive.

And in my spare time when I’m just, kind of chillen, I’ll listen to UGK, Slim Thug, Mike Jones, D.J Screw, Paul Wall…. (laughing).

 

ME: What advice do you give to women who are struggling to be and/or find themselves?

LEROYA: TRY. A lot of women that I encounter, at some point in life whether it be when they got married or they had kids, life just started picking up, they gained weight, money got tight and they couldn’t shop and that kind of stuff… somewhere along the line and most  of them can usually pinpoint when it happened, they just gave up. They’ll say, you know what, as long as my husband is taken care of, as long as my kids are clean and fed, I’ll just kind of get in where I fit in.

You have single women being in-love, back and forth in a relationship and self-esteem has been tarnished. They’ve been through things in their past: daddy issues, mommy issues, all kinds of stuff, all kind of factors. Again, they give up. I got tired of hearing the, oh Leroya that’s cute on you or ooh girl you slayed that, or only you could pull that off. Now, I’m not saying that I’m not an individual, or I don’t have my own sense of whatever because I do… but, you have to know that even if you don’t feel like you can do what I do or what someone else does, you still should do something.

Sometimes, you have to look like a fool. Its trial and error.

Leroya

Step out of your comfort zone some way or another and sometimes, you have to look like a fool. Its trial and error, you know. I cut my hair off and someone asked, how did you know it was going to look right? I didn’t! I woke up one morning, I went to the barber shop and I told them to shave every inch of my hair off and I loved it. I didn’t know if it was going to work, but I tried it anyway. And if it didn’t (work), I was going to figure out something else, quick weave it, or wig it up, whatever it was going to take to make it work.

I’m a very daring person… that’s another thing, be self-aware. That’s one of things I talk to my younger girls about. I tell them, I am very self-aware. There are a lot of things that I know about myself both good and bad; nobody has to tell me. Now, if you’re pulling my skirt tail, telling me, okay now,  you getting out of hand, that’s one thing, but you don’t have to sit up here and say, Leroya you are…. because nine times out of ten, I already know. And it could be something I’m working on or I’m not working on it because I’m working on seventeen other things that need improvement (laughing).

Try to know your limitations. You have these people that are all in a shell; they lose ten pounds and now they are dressing like a stripper. It’s like, wait a minute, where’s the middle ground? (laughs) Bring it back, lets reel it in, you know. Know who you are and know what your limitations are and pace yourself. I’m daring, I’m sink or swim. I’m the one that dives in an empty pool and prays the water is going to be there by the time my body makes it in, but that’s not everybody. So, when you see me and think, I want that, you might want that, but that may not be where we need to start with you. First of all, you’re 50; you’ve got grandchildren (laughs). You know what I’m saying, be self-aware. Know that every effort is not going to be successful, but it is worth it to keep working at it.

Know that every effort is not going to be successful, but it is worth it to keep working at it.

Leroya

Have someone that you trust to help you, especially for women that are married and have families. I spend half my time trying to get them not to feel guilty about doing something for themselves. You can’t feel guilty about doing something to improve or better yourself. You just can’t because that’s going to reflect on the outside.

Thank you, Leroya!!! : )


 

Many of us struggle with knowing who we are and, perhaps, are still attempting to discover our personal sense of style in the mist (that’s me when it comes to style). However, it is stories like the one above that prove that no one is alone in this. Everyone has to “try” to find their own way and surround themselves with people who will add to you without having their own personal agenda. May we borrow pointers from Leroya’s journey and understand that sometimes it takes trial and error on the road to discovering your true authentic self. The bottom line is, we must, at least, try.

Your Moment is Now,

Ebby Lane

Leroya’s fashion styling company, Eclectic Sparkle can be found HERE

I’d love to hear your thoughts below. As always, for personal comments email me: writerswithpurpose@gmail.com.

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