Success stories can seem just as fantastical as the fairy tales you (may have) loved growing up: Bold career woman finds herself in the right place at the right time, and poof, her
fairy godmother mentor snaps her fingers, transforming our hero into an overnight success who brings home a 7-figure salary, jet-sets the world spreading her you-can-have-it-all gospel, all while looking awesome and Instagramming the whole thing. Umm...really? Why do we so rarely hear the other side of the story — the false starts, the waves of doubt, the failures, and the fuck-ups? Those late-night worries and, occasionally, breakthroughs that are so relatable to the rest of us?
Introducing Self-Made, Refinery29's newest column spotlighting the real stories that fueled success — the wins, the fails, and the curveballs —proving there's no one path to getting what you want.
Olivia Anthony began designing what would become LIV Streetwear in college in Alabama. It started with a T-shirt and morphed into a full-fledged clothing line after Anthony moved to New York, working as a stylist. SZA's a fan. Kehlani, too. She's done pop-up shops with the Phluid Project and her bike shorts were spotted all over New York Fashion Week street style galleries. Outside of designing, Liv is an internet personality in her own right, often going viral for her costumes and impersonations.
Refinery29 talked with Anthony about how the designer taps into nostalgia, what it feels like to go viral, and how she defines success.
You create pieces that intentionally tap into ‘90s nostalgia. Why do you think that era resonates with our culture so much?
The '90’s era resonates with our culture so much because during that time we were unapologetically ourselves. We didn’t care what people thought and we were free to express who we were through style, music and art. Our people wore bold crazy nails, intense hairstyles and gold that would make a rich man jealous.
I also liv’d (heh get it?) through that era and saw how my older sister navigated through it as well. She was a whole vibe.
It was also the last era before social media. Everyone was authentic. In 2016, I saw that “ghetto” was being praised on the covers of magazines and on everyone’s mood board which is where the inspiration for my collection, “My Love To Our Culture” stems from. It was staged around the iconic Freaknik to serve as a history lesson to those who need it.
What’s it like going viral? How did you discover you like making videos?
Going viral is very interesting because it literally happens overnight. It always make me happy because I love making people laugh and smile. It’s something I naturally like to do for fun and a moment to not take myself too seriously. A lot of people don’t know that I was a theatre major at Alabama State and also a Stingette (the college's dance team). We used to come up with dance routines, obviously, and skits to entertain people. I'm pleased that I can incorporate this part of me into my brand.
Your brand makes athleisure look so cool and you've done pop-ups at the Phluid Project and around the city, what do you think people are finally noticing about your work?
Thank you so much! It’s always a good feeling to see our pop ups do well. LIVSTREETWEAR is a movement and not a trend. Events like the pop-ups allow me to connect with all the LIV Dolls (what I like to call my tribe). It’s a process and it takes consistency to build a brand. When you do finally get the attention, I feel like they are intrigued with not only the fun aspect but the bold pieces I create that can LIV in any situation and still make you feel free.
In your opinion, what is the definition of being self-made?
Being self made is putting your all into something, watching it grow and seeing your definition of success come to life. Money isn’t everything. People have billions of dollars behind them and still produce subpar work. It takes drive and confidence to know that whatever you produce will be worth it. To get the world to believe in what you have going on and your name becoming respected, that’s being self-made.
What quality do you think you possess that has made you a good candidate for self-making your destiny?
Staying in my own lane and being dedicated to my mission! I know that my destiny has already been written by God and I just have to put in the work. I LIV by that. The peace I get from knowing that everything my heart desires is already a given is a great feeling. I'm practicing daily to be patient and learn while I’m making moves.
Tell us a lesson you keep trying to learn, that you hope to eventually master, business or otherwise?
That I am enough and to trust the process. I'm such a perfectionist and always have the feeling of wanting more that I don’t LIV in the moment. I rarely take the time to celebrate myself and move on to the next thing quickly. I have to remind myself that I am the shit! LIV in the moment.
What aspect of your path do you think has been the most motivational to other young women coming up through the ranks?
People growing with me. I think it speaks volumes that women are being brought into my world that want to write about me, grow with me, and I can also uplift them, too! It’s a two way street and I appreciate all of the love and support because I like to do the same! We have to be a vessel for each other.
Being self-made means committing to self care, too, to manage the process as well as all the unexpected pivots that come with it. How do you fuel and refresh yourself when shit really starts to get hard?
Go to church or watch Pastor Michael Todd online. Sometimes I also fast from social media, actually I do that a lot! I have to stay refreshed and meditate throughout the day. And I cry! I cry a lot because shit gets really hard and it needs to just come out. There is nothing wrong with a little cry because there is always gratitude and a smile on the other side.
What's your Self-Made Mantra, no matter where you might be in the process?
To stay true to myself and LIV in the moment! And sometimes just say fuckit and just do it!
What are some unexpected challenges of running your own business?
The true importance of money and knowing that teams will constantly change until it sticks.
What are you generally doing at midnight?
Either brainstorming for the brand on Pinterest or playing Candy Crush. I have to slow my brain down so I also listen to meditation music to go to sleep and just be at peace.
If I weren’t creating pieces for LIVSTREETWEAR, I would be....
A MOVIE STAR BABY!