Florida-based Provoke Feeling is an expressive women’s clothing and accessory online retailer, whose self-explanatory mission is achieved by the stimulating one-of-a-kind creations of it’s founder and creative director, Jalixa Ramirez.
The brand’s logo, for instance, is a stark black, red, and white image of two women’s mouths – their painted lips juxtaposed, as the tongue of the second mouth reaches toward the teeth of the first.
This August Jalixa celebrated the store’s one year anniversary. And while she takes pride in – and enjoys – her work, she tells me her faith in what she does is constantly questioned. Still, like any artist who’s taken an idea or feeling from conception to manifestation, Ramirez allows her passion to guide her.
After graduating the Art Institute with a BA in Graphic Design in 2006 Ramirez, similarly to most driven graduates, worked for a variety of companies. She freelanced as a graphic designer before Jalixa realized that she ultimately wanted something more “to fill the void in her soul.” She needed to express her creativity “without any boundaries,” and share it with the world. This compulsion to create, express, and share is the energy behind Provoke Feeling.
Inspiring pieces from the collection of tanks, tees, and totes include the “I Speak For Her” Feminist tank, the “Can I Fuck Your Brain” tank, and the “Made For Another World” tee. Enticing prints of Ramirez’s artwork are also available on the site. “A Woman’s Fury”, “Amore”, and “Blind Love” promise at the very least to illicit frequent intrigued glances, if not generate curious conversation upon any wall they’re hung.
RUTH NINEKE:When did you make your first print?
JALIXA RAMIREZ: Hmmm. My first print, that I can think of, probably had to be when I was in high school and I designed an abstract figure that resembled two spheres being pulled apart. The spheres represented two worlds. It was designed in charcoal.
RN: What was the push, when was the moment you decided to take your art from paper/screen and put it onto clothing?
JR: I was working for a elevator company as their graphic designer and one of my co-workers asked me to design a logo for their softball team jersey’s. At that moment I thought how amazing it would be to transfer some of my own designs on tank tops. I think that was one of the pivotal moments in my life where I felt an overwhelming desire to create something bigger than me.
RN: Who are some of your mentors and inspirations in your life? Who/what keeps you going?
JR: There are so many people, places, things and many cultures that have influence over what I choose to design and create. I would have to say, Salvador Dali and Barbara Kruger play a huge roll in teaching me about being an open minded artist. Who/ What keeps me going? It’s my mother. Sounds a little cliche I know but, I made a promise to myself after I lost my mother… I told myself that I will live the life my mother never had a chance to live. So yes, my mother may she (R.I.P. Return If Possible) keeps me going. She is my fuel to life.
RN: It seems like there are a lot of people into fashion these days. What do you think sets you apart?
JR: Yes, There are many painters/ artists in this world, there are many fashion designers. I would like to think that all artists start their journey because they want their voice to be heard and then they develop and grow into something they never thought they would be. I think that’s where I am headed… I am becoming the artist I was meant to be but, instead of only using canvas as my medium, I use clothes. So to answer your question… I think my art combined with thought provoking words sets me a part in this industry.
RN: What’s the most fun part of being in fashion? Of running Provoke Feeling?
JR: This whole journey on starting a business from scratch and knowing there is so much more I have to learn has been very NEW to me and I think that’s what makes it so exciting.
RN: What’s the most challenging part?
JR: Juggling a full time job while still trying to maintain a healthy mindset and creating the time to continue to build Provoke Feeling has to be the most challenging part but also the most rewarding.
RN: How do you keep yourself motivated?
JR: I laugh[ed] after reading this question… it really comes down to knowing that maybe one day when I am no longer here, my art will be. Yeah.. there are many days where I want to give up because life gets in the way and people leave and the daily struggle of trying to make ends meet never ends but, who the hell would I be if I did just that. If you want to leave a mark on this world, no matter how small that mark may be, you have to work for it. Of coursepositive affirmations always help as well. One of them being Napoleon Hill: Think And Grown Rich… I guess it’s the combination of ingredients that can either break you or make you. In the end the choice is always yours and who wants to be a loser in their own eyes?
RN: So you opened the store last August. Is it just online?
JR: At first yes, Provoke Feeling was only available online but I actually just became a part of a once a month event called Style Rack held here in Miami where I will sell my products and have a few models wearing Provoke Feeling. So, I am very excited to see where this leads.
RN: You’re coming up on one year. Congratulations! How was the first year?
JR: I just let out a big sigh… I had goals I didn’t meet… but I also gained a hell of a lot of experience within the first year. I hear it all the time: “Hows business.. are you selling a lot of merchandise… Is it worth it” All of these questions test my faith on what I am doing but, I am not looking to make a profit within the first three years of my business. I think the first three years of owning a business is the most crucial because every bit of you is tested in some way and that’s where I am at right now. Some people spend their money on partying while others spend their money on vacations… I choose to spend mine on my passion and I know if I keep on running straight for my goals, I will be rewarded at the end. I have big plans for Provoke Feeling and this next year will be bigger and better because I made it this far.
**If you enjoyed this Spotlight, please show your support for independent artists (and business women on the come up!) by “Liking” Provoke Feeling on Facebook. Be sure to follow Jalixa on Twitter and Tumblr for spirited posts, pictures, and shared feelings!