Style: Hi, Karleen. It's really great to finally catch up with you. I know that you are super busy and we appreciate you taking out the time to chat. Let's start with THE most important questions. What is The Vanity Group and How did you begin your career?
Karleen: You're welcome Pe'a. The Vanity Group is a Luxury Concierge Service that specializes in Bespoke events. My background is within the music business and entertainment industry. Long story short, I started off as an insanely hungry intern, then an assistant at NE-YO’s budding Compound Entertainment when he first got signed, worked at Sony Music in Copyright, volunteered with every music company I could - shout out to the gold folks at Violator Management! Finally, landed my dream job working at Bad Boy, and later promoted to be Mr. Combs (Sean Diddy Combs) Executive Assistant, and the rest is history!
Style: Wow! What an amazing journey. What was your experience working with Mr. Combs?
Karleen: Mr. Combs as we all know is the hardest, most brilliant working man in show business with impeccable eye for style and the king of getting sh*t done! He also is known for creating the most legendary events of our time (hello THE WHITE PARTY?!). So naturally working so closely with him and orchestrating his pristine lifestyle, I was lucky and smart enough to sponge as much as I could.
Style: I'm sure he was very inspirational. He is truly one of the greats of this era. Is that where you developed your vision for The Vanity Group?
Karleen: Yes, After working with Mr. Combs for years, in the back of my mind there was the spark for a small lifestyle brand of my own. I did not know exactly 'what' that was, but that is where the idea for The Vanity Group started to brew and here we are.
Style: What is a day in the life like for the Founder of The Vanity Group?
Karleen: Its never the same. Some days, I’m happy to wake up, work out and be a normal person. Then on other days I’m upside down, doing a conference call while I’m having my chiropractor readjust my back, talking with clients on how to make the impossible happen for an upcoming crazy event, fighting with my little cousin about her baby shower or running back and forth to the bank to send wires before the east coast cut off while booking a flight on my broken iPhone, and all while my computer is crashing! It just depends.
Style: That's intense LOL! It's funny some may see you as having a glam job. There is always so much more behind the curtains. I think social media has soften the entrepreneur lifestyle - especially in the creative fields. What are some of your challenges?
Karleen: Very true. There are some glamorous moments but, business is serious and much more than what social media showcases. There are real deliverables, responsibilities, things that you must be accountable for. Being an actual business owner is the biggest challenge. Its one to have a cool concept for a business, but its a whole other ballgame and level of tenacity to actually run the operations of the business. I’m still learning myself.
Style: Thank you for your candor. It's important to have a realistic perspective of owning a business. What advice can you offer to those aspiring to go into the business of creativity?
Karleen: I will say this that there is enough room for all of us! Enough money to go around, enough shine to get, enough space to create whatever makes you happy. Stay in your lane and don’t copy. You can be inspired but, be authentic when creating your lane, life and career you desire. Stay true to who you are, and don’t waiver.
Style: What is the Vanity Group's “It” factor? What keeps your clients coming back?
Karleen: The “It” factor can not be explained or taught. Its a certain je ne sais quoi, you either have it or you don’t. Its that simple to me. That is why it is so important to create your own lane and remain true to who you are. That is where you will shine. That is where you will grow and reach your full potential.
Karleen on Fashion & Style
Style: How would you describe your personal style?
Karleen: My personal style is more than what I wear. It’s how I chose to live my life in all areas and how I see the world. I would describe my personal style as a hybrid of everything I love and connect with. Black women of the 80s, Bianca Jagger at Studio 54 vibes, hip-hop culture and influences, mix of high and low, great pieces that stand the test of time and not the trend of the moment, comfort and confidence.
Style: How do you define great style?
Karleen: Great style has little to do with money, it is really about your eye for putting things together in general.
Style: Who is your style icon ?
Karleen: My style icon is Tracee Ellis Ross, she can do no wrong in my eyes! I love that she has a real black woman’s shape and she plays it up in the most effortlessly flyest way! She’s my style BFF in my head. And I want Diana Ross to be my fairy glam-mother.
Style: Tracee is absolutely one of our favorites. Her mom is beyond iconic. What items in your wardrobe that you cannot go without?
Karleen: My Chanel collection, Black sweatpants, Nikes (because I hate wearing heels when I’m running around), Gold bangles/bracelets and My Father’s Rolex.
Style: Sounds like a perfect mix of comfy and chic. What 3 items should every "It" Girl have in her wardrobe?
- A great classic bag and investment piece not a trend. It should be able to withstand the ever changing fashion forecast.
- Good luggage (you can’t be “fly” and traveling with raggedy luggage!)
- A jewelry piece that you’re proud of.
Style: Perfect. In this shopping environment so many things are attainable. Everything doesn't have to be high end or the newest piece. I encourage people to shop high and low, last season and consignment. The goal is to have timelessness, quality and stylish items that fit your lifestyle. So, are you splurging on any new items this Spring?
Karleen: Levis, I look ever year but can never find a pair that fits, Spring booties, and an oversized, distressed denim jacket. I had a great one, but left it in the airport in Paris last year. So I’m still on the hunt for a replacement.
Our Style Picks for Karleen
White booties are a hit for Spring
We don't believe a perfect fit Levi exist. However, we do believe in great seamstress.
We would love a distressed over-sized denim jacket, But, how adorable is this off the shoulder piece.
Keep up with Karleen on Instagram @karleenroy & @thevanitygroup.