Tosha Eason On The Ups and Downs Of The Creative Industry
By Morgana Van Peebles
Tell me a little about yourself.
I’m originally from Texas, but I was born in Germany. I moved from Germany to New York, and then Texas, but I always say Texas because that’s where I lived the longest.
I went to college and at first was a biology major, but oh my God, after taking a few courses it was a lot. I then switched my major to business, but I just found myself not really knowing what I wanted to do, but I have always had this passion for fashion. My ultimate dream goal is to have my own fashion label which I just kind of started working on this year.
I used to sketch in sixth grade, and all my models would have these triangle legs. It was bad, but I had a vision. I quit school because I just felt like I was wasting my parents’ time and money, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.
In 2012, I started working for a brand as a creative director for their online boutique and that’s when I got into photography. Then I was an accessories editor for an online magazine. I’ve done like a lot of things in fashion, but creative direction, photography, and designing are definitely my top. That’s just what I want to do.
I moved to LA in 2003. I’ve been here for a long time, but I still feel like a southern girl. People are so different here. I love LA, I love the opportunities, the culture, but when I moved here it was definitely a culture shock.
You’re a creative director, stylist and photographer. How did you find yourself doing all three and which came first?
I started creative direction and photography simultaneously. When I was the creative director for the online boutique, it incorporated my styling abilities, but I more so got to creative direct the shoots and the concepts and the direction of the brand. I feel like photography and creative direction came together, but I was doing styling before that so I guess that came first.
I don’t style as much as I used to because it’s just so much work. Every time I would get paid, I felt like I didn’t charge enough. People also don’t usually want to pay too much money, but styling is time consuming and you spend a lot of time on pulling looks. I would usually end up helping assist with the creative direction as well. I just realized that I liked creative directing and photography a lot more. It allows me to see the bigger picture and tie it all together that way.
When it comes to creative direction and your projects, from where do you draw most of your inspiration?
I try to come up with a base for the concept that’s not so drawn from someone else. Some of my inspiration is from the creative accounts I follow on Instagram, but I would say a lot of my inspiration is from art and other fashion designers. I just love looking through old and new campaigns. I also love film photographers like Juergen Teller. I love the nostalgic feel of his photos so I get a lot of inspiration from those.
How is it different working with brands versus creating your own content? Does collaboration help you grow as an individual artist and vice versa?
I personally feel it doesn’t help me grow because you’re usually in a box for a brand. Very rarely are there brands that say you can create what you want. I don’t think I grow creatively when working with brands because it doesn’t really propel me forward. I feel like I grow more creatively when I’m working on my own projects because I’m not stuck in a box and I’m able to create on any and all levels that I want and give it the aesthetic that I want as opposed to creating for a brand where I can give it some part of my aesthetic, but it has to be infused with their branding.
For example, I’ll get a holiday theme and it’s just so cheesy, and sometimes it just doesn’t even feel like me, like the creative girl that doesn’t really smile. I smile so much in person, but not in my pictures. I’m the happiest person, but when it comes to fashion I feel like I have to give blue steel vibes so when brands are asking me to smile, it always feels so weird which I’m sure sounds crazy. Unless a brand truly trusts you and says we love your aesthetic, creativity, and vibe, giving you the free reign to explore, I’m usually creating within this box. And I get it, brands need content that aline with their vision, but it is harder.
You’re not only known as a creative director, but also for your own personal style; did you make the conscious decision to grow yourself as a brand or did it happen simultaneously as you began to grow as an artist?
It happened simultaneously. I’m before Instagram. I miss the searching for content days. Today, it’s just handed to us and no one really appreciates the work or effort that you put into it anymore. I came from the blogging days when people would actually read blogs and leave comments, and now we have Instagram as our main platform, which is fine. I just miss it sometimes.
I first started as a personal style blog, and my blog did really well. My style was getting recognition and it was really nice, but I’ve always had a job. I’ve always been like this is not enough, this is just a creative outlet, it's never going to be enough to make me feel fulfilled. I want to design. I want to chase after my dreams and still blog, maybe. I actually took it down last year just because I feel like I've outgrown blogging for me personally. There are a lot of girls that still use it, but I just feel like it's mainly a reference point these days where people can go to for more information on a post.
I don’t really feel it’s necessary to keep doing all that, now that I just post when I want. I’ve never wanted to be considered just a blogger or influencer. I think that these days we’re all more than one thing, we’re slashes, you know? Slash this, slash that, and that’s how you get and keep good jobs, by being able to do everything. I’ve definitely grown from my blog to this point, and it has definitely helped me in my career. I mean this is how I got my job as an accessories director, as a creative director, and many other projects from styling to photography. It’s definitely been a blessing creatively to have a personal platform.
You’ve done so much from projects to personal pieces and features such as Teen Vogue and Huffington Post, considering all the different avenues and projects you’ve done, what was one of your favorites to work on and why?
My favorite thing to work on was my last project with Bad Girl, Good Human. That’s my friend! She started the line, and I think that it is so genius. Even just the name itself. Styling the video was amazing and it just turned out great. It was refreshing and at the end it was just like man, this is the type of quality work that I always want to be putting out.
We shot it in an airplane graveyard and used a drone… it was so fun. Now I’m even learning video editing. This project was definitely the smallest crew I’ve ever worked with and it was great.
When it comes to behind the scenes of your job and social media, what are some of the hardest moments you’ve encountered as a creative/influencer, and how did you deal with them?
As you can see I’m Black, and because of that I just don’t feel that we get the same opportunities that a lot of other women get. I worked with other brands and they were promoting the same collection that all these other girls were wearing but they didn’t repost my picture. I knew it was because I was Black and I just didn’t really fit their aesthetic, even though they posted all the rest of the women who were not of color. Things like that are very frustrating. I don’t have to prove myself to anybody because of the color of my skin. I’ve literally told brands that I will only work with you if you are willing to repost my picture. People need to see Black women.
Even the brands I consult for sometimes have no diversity, and it’s hard because how do you think this is ok? The last brand I worked with, I realized had this perspective because they only see themselves and people like themselves. They’re not racist, they just don’t think to hire diverse faces to represent the brand so that everyone can feel included, and that’s one of the biggest things I have been the most frustrated by. Even in the fashion industry, there are so many Black women behind the scenes who do so much and put it all together, but half the time you don’t even know who they are. We have to push so hard just to be seen or given recognition when creatively, we own it and can hold our own. There is just so much more to women of color than what is shown to the world, especially in fashion.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I definitely just see myself doing more creatively — being more settled into who I am as a creative. In five years, I see myself running a solid fashion label. Hopefully, I can even have a house.
I also see myself traveling more. I’m not able to travel as much as I want because I have fibromyalgia. It’s a chronic nerve condition, where my pain sensors are heightened, so some mornings I wake up and it feels as if I have been in a car accident. Your body just aches everywhere. I don’t get to travel as much as I’d like, but in five years I see myself happier, healthier, traveling. Honestly, one of the biggest things I want to be able to do is travel more, but my health has been holding me back. I don’t want that to dictate what I’m capable of doing.
Is there anything you would like to share with our readers that I haven’t asked you?
I moved here from Texas with around one hundred dollars. I didn’t really know what I was going to do or where I was going to go in LA, but I’m so happy I took that leap of faith and believed in myself enough to make something here for myself. I think a lot of the time we just let the things we don’t know and our fears rob us of the things we can be investing ourselves in. I just want to say that whatever is in your heart that you feel strongly about and really want to do, even if you’re not one hundred percent sure if that’s it, even if it’s things, just do it. Do it, because that’s going to lead you to where you want to go and what you want to do, and that’s kind of how my journey has been.
I was going to school and moved out here to pursue acting, but they kept type casting me as the token black girl and I wasn't making any money and I didn’t want to do it anymore. I just had to find my way. There is nothing more valuable than finding your way because you learn so much, and every challenge becomes easier because you can take that knowledge and apply it to the next obstacle knowing you’ll get through it just like the first.
Ok so this next part is just some fireball questions, answer the first thing that comes to mind - describe your style in two words?
Edgy but simple.
Something you can’t leave home without?
Closet must have?
Current favorite artist?
Someone that inspires you?
Zoe Kravitz, I think she’s really amazing. And my mom also inspires me!
Favorite last thing you’ve read?
Women Who Run with Wolves.
I’m still reading it but it’s amazing.
Juergen Teller. I just love him and his stuff.