Fashion designer Sheila Simone returns to her roots with the debut of Sheila June collection, an homage to her greatest inspiration – her mother. The mastermind behind her namesake label, the passionate mom of two Yorkies also has a matching pet collection named after her precious dogs, Cocoa and Chloe. Since selling her hair salon and moving to California, Simone has devoted her energy to crafting a collection that stays true to her childhood dreams. She also expands her namesake label to release the casual yet captivating California Resort Wear collection and Repost, featuring unique one-of-a-kind reworked vintage. Her impeccable clothing label radiates for its unmistakable charm, made with love!
Tricia Love: Can you tell us about how that entrepreneurial spirit was ignited in you?
Sheila Simone: My mom is my inspiration. Growing up with three other sisters, my mom would always want us to look fashionable. We all wanted beautiful clothes, [but] unfortunately my dad just had enough means for us all to survive. We would make patterns out of paper bags and get a pretty bed sheet and make a dress out of it. It would actually come out really cute. We started designing clothes at like six, seven years old. I would bring my clothes with me to show in town. My mom would get letters back from the teacher saying how well dressed I always was.
Tricia Love: Where did you grow up?
Sheila Simone: In Haverhill, Massachusetts on the East Coast. I always wanted to be an actress, and I couldn’t wait to go to New York City, but unfortunately it was very expensive. I was cutting everybody’s hair in high school. My dad said, “You’re cutting all your friends’ hair, why don’t you open up a salon and save some money?” I did that, and I named the salon Act One because I wanted to remember that was my real journey. The salon flourished. It went from myself at 20 years old to when I sold it about five years ago, we employed about 50 to 75 people. I sold it [when] I came to California [because] my sister lives here and she had a salon in Corona Del Mar. Then I said, “It’s time. I’m going to start designing clothes.” [That was] about two years ago.
Tricia Love: How fascinating. What a beautiful story and journey, Sheila.
Sheila Simone: My mom recently passed away, it’s just been a few months. My label, Sheila June, is my middle name and mom’s name, [which] is June. [Those are] one-of-a-kind exclusive pieces that I make, and I give the proceeds of that to the research because of my mom. Right before she passed, we would Zoom, and I would show my her all the new things I was making. A lot of my designs that I’m making now are things that my mom and I made together when I was like 12 because that ’70s vibe is back. My mom, with dementia, would never know who I was [until we] would start talking about the clothes. She’d come back and be like, “Sheila, we made that together and that was so beautiful on you.” It was like a miracle. I think that mom would have been the most amazing designer of all time.
I was doing so well the first year, and then COVID [happened] … Everything stopped. I remember feeling like, “I don’t know if I can keep doing this. I have to make money. I don’t think anybody’s going to be buying my clothes.” [But] I could feel [my mom say], “Just keep going Sheila. Keep going, keep going. You’re good at this.” I was so exhausted, and I didn’t want to keep going, but it was some energy that would come over me, and I would keep going. I think it was her.
Tricia Love: Tell us about this new collection coming up, Sheila June.
Sheila Simone: The label is Sheila Simone California Resort Wear. I have a label underneath it, which is Sheila June. That is basically – if I have a piece that I feel I worked through with my mom, I make it one-of-a-kind. Sheila June is, while I’m making it, I can feel this is something my mom’s doing with me. Then I have a Cocoa and Chloe Accessory and Doggy Resort. Cocoa and Chloe are my two little Yorkies, and they have their own line. There are tiny outfits that match my outfits and all the accessories, like my headscarf matches the same fabric.
Tricia Love: I love that.
Sheila Simone: California Resort Wear is basically comfortable, casual clothes. You can throw them in your suitcase, you can mix and match them with everything. You’ll wear them to the pool, to the beach, to the dance floor, to cocktails, to dinner. It’s stuff that doesn’t wrinkle. Throw it in your suitcase, very versatile and you always look great no matter what you’re doing.
Tricia Love: Are there any other pieces that you want to share or touch on during this conversation that you want to share with readers?
Sheila Simone: I designed a black leather jacket, and it has a beautiful, handmade Porsche emblem on the back. It’s really cool with some chains and everybody started saying, “I want one of those jackets.” It’s a one-of-a-kind piece, but the band that’s going to be performing at Orange County Fashion Week asked me if I could design something for them to wear. I’m not into [menswear] yet so I said, “Why don’t I make you guys some really cool jackets for your personality?” The name of that label is going to be Sheila Simone Repost. With COVID, I can’t fly to Italy, Spain [or] Turkey to get my fabrics. So I decided to go to vintage stores and pick up really nice little pieces of vintage. I design really nice jackets and just decorate them with all my vintage pieces and make each one unique.
Interview by Tricia Love Vargas
Edited by Kaleen Luu