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Delve Deep into Culture Of & Carley Simone's World

I’m a true advocate for health & wellness. You need to take care of yourself. That’s what I want my life’s work to be.
— Carley Simone

I took a break from behind the scenes to sit down with Carley Simone, founder of Culture Of: Bodega. Culture Of is a creative online bodega located in Philadelphia, PA. The name stemmed from Carley's studies in college, influenced by the culture of people. Culture Of: Bodega meant to suggest it could be the culture of anything; a store that could be the culture of anything. I was immediately intrigued by the concept of the name alone. Many times, especially in today's fashion you catch people trying to push clothes with no story or meaning. Those easily convinced latch on without question, making it harder for true creatives. The grand scheme of Culture Of will eventually branch out into health & wellness, possibly even food. Carley hopes to create a hub for all things life and creativity with the help of her business partner, Trey; an artist as well.

Typically considering herself a school girl, Carley Simone didn't feel the same connection at college.  Since the 5th grade she has always known she'll complete school and go on to a university. She felt like a failure without the connection, but realizing that wasn't true she moved to the next step. "I don't believe black excellence is limited to a degree." Taking a break from college, Carley figured this was the perfect opportunity to get to know herself better and pursue her dreams. Using the time to focus on her health and regaining confidence, Carley had the chance to step back and take life in.

The next step was quitting her job, Carley took a leap of faith. She decided that now was as good a time as any to conquer her dreams of owning a store. (A very new store, one month old.) Yet despite the small space of time the brand has already had a very positive response. "It's overwhelming, you want a positive response and everything just happened so fast." At the moment, she even has trouble keeping an inventory due to the high interest. Majority of the site items come from other thrift stores, closet close outs and her grandma's closet. This helps keep the authenticity of the vintage clothing. The brand plans to accept donations to help open up the inventory as well. Carley's dream is to have a thrift store on Baltimore Avenue. Culture Of  hopes to one day become much more accessible to the community. With a store front or studio space, she wants to create a place for young creatives to have photoshoots, parties or a general hang-out. 

Once a definition fashionista, Carley used to devote time to piecing together outfits. Her style has since changed to much more relaxed and comfortable. Her new mantra advocates for being comfortable in your own skin, she no longer feels the need to dress for others. Her latest project, a T-Shirt Dress Line stems from this. The new line is set to debut at an upcoming fashion show she's co-hosting with the brand Minkless (Handmade Jewelry). When asked about designing for a celebrity, she said creating a bad ass t-shirt dress for Solange Knowles is definitely a goal. 

After learning about her aspirations, we changed lanes to speak about where she manifest inspiration. The honesty was overwhelming. Carley Simone didn't hesitate to share that much of her inspirations comes from being poor. "I don't live in poverty, but I'm definitely a lower class citizen." She explains that not being able to afford things, pushed her to create them herself. It even gives her a sense of accomplishment. Other inspirations comes from youth culture and the dynamic voices that aren't afraid to demand more. The boldness the everyday life gives off much to explore. "I live for that. I might make some jeans that are wild and crazy. Or I might make something that's super chic and simplistic. It all comes from watching people do whatever they want to do." 

A word of inspiration from Carley Simone:  "I had someone tell me the art community is too competitive, you can never make it. I think everybody has their own lane, the world is built in such a way that you are designed in the imagine of other people. Me and you might not be carbon copies, but we both like chokers. So we're a creative hub from chokers; it's very small. But in big numbers you can create your own lane for anything, you just have to be yourself. Trust that the universe will reveal other people and a path for you to follow. I truly believe that. I believe that I'm going to be successful in what I do. Judge your success by your own standards." 

In her free time, she gets into painting, stencil work and occasionally graphic design. "I model. Haha, I'll put that in quote. But I mostly just style now." She has her hands in many different things. She also has passion for the creative direction, the details and angles of things sparks interest for her. 

Transparency. I can truly say that Carley Simone opened up and was unapologetically herself. I enjoy face to face interviews for this exact reason. People feel that in interviews they have to convey a rehearsed image of themselves to look good for others or that professionalism needs to be over the top. In all honesty for lifestyle interviews, the more unedited, the better. If I wanted to find out about a more toned down version of somebody, then chances are I can visit their social media profiles. In these, interviews I'm looking to learn about a person the world might not know. 

As for Culture Of, the brand has a lot of photo shoots planned and as their schedule clears up they plan to become involved with more events.

Follow Culture Of: Bodega on Instagram for more information. 

Curated by: NKC, Creative Director