Malene Barnett is a dynamite design director living in Brooklyn, who describes her fashion styled as “bold, globally inspired, and colorful,” along with “in sync with my personality.”
ELSA AND ME recently caught up with Malene as part of our “Herstory” blog series, to shoot some fantastic photos, and get her story about a woman from her family that inspired her, as well as ask her opinion on “what makes America great.”
What do you love about what you do?
I love the design process, it excites me. Being able to find design-solutions for home furnishing products and more is my motivation to design. I love that I'm equipped with the knowledge and resources to create whatever I want and I want people to experience these products.
Malene is the award-winning designer behind Malene B., a pulsating collection of bespoke carpets, fine art wall coverings and artisan tiles. The scarves shown in the above pictures are part of a recent limited collection soon to be launched on her website, visit here.
What older family member inspired you and how?
My maternal grandmother was a fashion designer, homeowner, and entrepreneur. She grew up on a tiny Island in the Caribbean called St. Vincent, owned a dress shop, married young, and had four children; my mother is the oldest.
She later ventured to the U.S. to make a better life for herself and her children. She spent many years apart from her children and worked for various fashion houses, hand sewing intricate embroideries without getting any credit for her talent. She also had a great sense of style and knew how to be the best hostess.
Even though she died when I was 11 months old, and only held me as a baby, her vision, sacrifices, creativity, and determination inspires me to continue my journey to inspire others to be worldly and live boldly.
What do you think makes this country great?
I thought about this quotation when answering your question, “Nobody is free until everyone is free.” Also, Fannie Lou Hamer asked, “Is a country great if only a portion of the population benefits from the greatness?” It’s hard to share what's great about an entire place knowing not all groups have equity in its institutions, which mean not all can benefit at the same levels, if at all; but I can share a few great things about my neighborhood: the diversity, community, mix of suburbs and city living, and being surrounded by creative professionals make it great.
Malene is wearing our red RUTH dress with a v-neck, cap sleeves, and longer skirt.