About Keama AliceRuth Garrett
Keäma AliceRuth Garrett was born in Columbus, Ohio and located in Harlem, New York.
Keäma believes "Fashion is created but Style is passed down" -- and there’s no doubt that style runs effortlessly through Keäma's family. The designer references matriarchal style mavens, Alabama-born Mary Alice and Mississippi-born Gladys Ruth, her grandmothers, both of whom she is named after. "To know me is to know my grandmothers,” Keäma nostalgically explains. "Gladys Ruth is always casual luxe with a very clean minimalist look. Her outfits are a casual slay of nice jumpsuits or sweatsuits, always accessorized by rings, bracelets and accents that make her the queen she is. And Mary Alice is high fashion and class -- the Gospel, meaning Black high fashion with flawless monochromatic looks from her hat, down to her church heels and matching purse. My grandmothers are both from the country, and some might perceive their style as such, but they always dress with a touch of class and a whole lotta Gospel! My aesthetic is heavily influenced by them."
At the age of eight, Keäma eagerly began her design training with church babysitter, Mrs. Minnie, who taught her the basics of machine sewing -- planting the seeds for her custom career and encouraging her to design high fashion garments out of old shirts and fabric made exclusively for her teddy bears and dolls.
Keäma’s style and inspiration journey continued as a reference to Black culture, hip-hop, and Black representation on television through iconic characters, such as Moesha, played by Brandy, and empowering female artists from Lil Kim to Aaliyah. As well as pop icons like Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey!
She also strongly credits her parents Kent and Sylvia Garrett whose always put her and her siblings in multiple activities such as african dancing, lacrosse, and tennis. Along with her sisters, Kendra, Keri, and Keyonda which she calls her Destiny's Child. Growing-up in a predominantly white neighborhood, a space where her family was rarely acknowledged by white neighbors, Black cultural representation became especially important. Beyoncé’s music, specifically, provided a safe space for Keäma and her sisters to be young, care-free black girls.
In middle school, Keäma spent a summer abroad at an exchange school in Japan, where she recalls being surrounded by vivid colors and creative freedom on the Harajuku streets. She recalls her grandfather’s passing this same summer and reflects on the warmth felt by Japan’s creative expression, remembering that “fashion can transform anything” -- which is how she honors his legacy to this day.
As she continued her virtuous journey, young Keäma would eventually meet Mrs. Wendell Burton, who would become her mentor and sensei -- teaching more advanced sewing and pattern making techniques, while encouraging young Keäma to follow her passion and attend Kent State University for fashion and design. Where she double majored in Fashion and Costume Design. She worked at the the historical Kent State Fashion Musuem as a Currator's Assistant studying fashion archives from Africa, Europe and many countries. While studying at Kent State, she would be faced with underlying fashion struggles leading her to spend much of her time at the University’s Costume Shoppe under Robin Ruth, where she discovered the story of fashion and costume designer Zelda Wynn Valdes, and realized, with newfound inspiration. She discovered new plays and musicals like Spring Awakening, Findler's Roof, and Midsummer's night Dream. During summer breaks, the young designer apprenticed under her Aunt Endalyn Taylor at the Dance Theatre of Harlem making dance costumes.
During school, Keäma interned in New York City with James Coviello, the designer behind Anna Sui’s knits. Working with Coviello, along with Laura Budde, gave her insight into the reality of running a studio while designing for corporate retailers and taking on celebrity clients. Not to mention New York Fashion Week, when Keäma attended her first show.
All of Keäma’s design experiences led her to start her own brand, where she specializes in couture and casual luxe to celebrate luxury through Black American resilience, while paying homage to the diaspora’s African roots, and creating intentional silhouettes inspired by bespoke costumes that have been preserved in fashion archives throughout history.