Designer Spotlight: Ruqaiyah Johnson of Ruby Charles

As the leading authority on bridal inspiration for discerning brides of color who crave culture and style, we are committed to continuously showcasing that brides of color are creative, stylish and truly unique. In addition to this central objective, we have decided to introduce a new section called Designer Spotlight. Through this section, it is our pleasure to introduce you to extremely talented designers of color who specialize in creating the perfect wedding dress. We intend to give them a spotlight where they might not otherwise have one. We hope you enjoy!

Our first spotlight is on Ruqaiyah "Kiya" Johnson, the very talented founder and Creative Director of Ruby Charles. Kiya named her studio and brand after her late grandmother and is for "those who subscribe to the philosophy of “easy elegance” and who aspire for a wardrobe of essentials." I had the pleasure of interviewing Kiya for our blog. Get to know her and the Ruby Charles brand. This is easy, breezy, beautiful at its finest :)


Did you always know you would be a designer? If so, when and why? If not, when did you realize that designing was what you would do?

I didn't always know that I wanted to be a designer, but I knew I wanted to be a creative. When, I was a little girl I hoped to be a ballerina and a cartoonist. Looking back I was always interested in fashion, and around age 12 I started reading and learning more about it. By the time I was 14 I was studying costume design, and I haven't looked back since.

How did your design career begin?

Well, I suppose it started with my first job at Jason Wu. I started out as an intern pre Michelle Obama inaugural gown, which was pretty cool to see how the company transitioned afterwards. I was very lucky to work there. Jason Wu is extremely talented and humble. I learned a lot.

The name of your collection is inspired by your grandmother, Rubine "Ruby" Charles. What is it about her that has inspired you for so long?

My grandmother, Ruby, passed away when I was 5 (on my birthday actually), but I remember always loving to be around her. She was always dressed, and she always had on her rouge and a bit of lipstick. Growing up, my mother had pictures of her all around the house, and she was so chic, and had a great presence. However, my grandmother was also very normal and accessible. That's the same quality that I strive for in my designs.

Ruby Charles consists of 2 collections. Can you tell us about them and what makes them different?

Ruby Charles has the Blue Label Collection, which is the bridal/resort line. The pieces from this collection really are meant for the woman looking for something that will allow her to be comfortable and beautiful on the day of her wedding, but still feel like a bride. A lot of the pieces can be dressed down or up, and work for the bridal party as well. Ruby Charles Blue Label is also great for a resort vacation, honeymoon. The pieces are mostly in high end jersey materials so they can be packed in your suitcase easily. The Ruby Charles ready-to-wear line has a more saturated palette, and has the same principles as the Blue Label for being versatile and effortless. The clothes are extremely chic and easy to wear. You really can take them from day to evening; these pieces become staples in your wardrobe.

You've created a bridal collection that is different in the sense that your dresses are both elegant and very comfortable. What inspired that?

Since, I started designing I've been very interested in doing bridal. So, I always read all of the bridal magazines and blogs, and I really noticed that there was a gap in the market for these types of dresses. There are many talented designers who do beautiful gowns, but wedding dresses always seem so constrictive. I knew if I ever got married I wouldn't want that. You should feel free, easy, beautiful on your wedding day.

Who is the Ruby Charles Blue Label bride?

She's someone who wants to look and feel gorgeous and natural on the day of her wedding. She doesn't want to feel strapped into her dress.

What's next for the Ruby Charles collections?

I am currently working on S/S 13 collection, and we're slated to be entering some new stores this year so stay tuned...


I am inspired daily by... God and the beautiful world all around me. Everything can be inspiring.

I cannot live without ... A good lip balm, a nail file, and some sort of sweater or cover up. I can't stand chapped lips, I file my nails constantly, and I'm always cold. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?

Every designer should be ... Confident, but not arrogant. Believe in your work, but listen to other people's opinions and suggestions. You don't always have to use the advice, but they may see something you don't, and that's always an advantage.


See the full gallery below and check out behind-the-scenes photos of Kiya's first photoshoot.  Become a fan of Ruby Charles on facebook / Twitter:  @RubyCharles1  / Pinterest:

[nggallery id=426]

{photos by Sederrick Raphiel}

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