Fashion, music and film; Marla Guloien Lives Out Her Dreams
By Gino Terrell
Her home’s showroom is decked with studio lights, four screen monitors to remind her how busy she is, pictures of celebrities such as Eve and Christina Aguilera rocking her clothing line and the interior design is spiffy enough to know this fashion designer lives by the motto of her clothing line “GlamRock is a lifestyle. GlamRock is an attitude. Be bold. Be who you are.”
Marla Guloien’s showroom (photo: Marla Guloien).
Being prepared for the moment has led to a successful career for Marla Guloien; and with her plans for 2017, she’s showing no signs of stopping.
Music artist and founder of internationally known fashion line "GlamRock by Marla G", is now sold in it's exclusive online retail store, ShopGlamRock. With over a hundred celebrity clients, Marla is making moves this year working on new products and updating the shop’s platform to Shopify, where consumers can purchase the brand via Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Pinterest.
This past Wednesday, two new designs released exclusively on Instagram. Consumers can expect more to come in the coming weeks.
On top of that, she plans to release a Christmas album later this year.
“I believe in being prepared for the moment of opportunity and living with no fear of being your best,” Guloien said.
Throughout her career she’s done just that and it all started when she saw an opportunity to use her college project to jumpstart her music career. And through music is how she initiated her career in fashion.
How It All Started
Studying Communications at Simon Fraser University in Canada she had one final project before graduating. There were three components to the project. Create a CD booklet insert, design a marketing package for a new artist and produce a stationary kit to start up. She thought to herself why not market herself as the new artist and try to start a career in music.
It took only six weeks to write the music for her first album.
One week before graduating her father managed to connect her with the popular Canadian musician Miles Black, to help producer her album. After her debut tour in 2009 she published her first album “Marla Guloien” in 2010.
Genetic Passion For Music
The Paul Perry Orchestra
The Canadian native grew up in a musical family stemming from her father’s side with her grandfather Paul Perry, a saxophone player with his own orchestra, her uncle PJ Perry, a award winning saxophone player and instrumentalist, (pictured below in the studio recording saxophone for her album) and lastly, but most importantly, her father Nels Guloien, a timeless, talented drummer and executive producer to her first album.
Singing at her grandparents’ anniversary at age 5 for over 200 people in attendance, Guloien remembers singing a song from Little Mermaid.
“So incredible and encouraging,” Guloien recalls the moment.
Her track “Take Bow” even came from a poem she had written when she was 12. Originally written for a class project only to hear her teacher say it wasn’t good enough for class, she kept that notebook and one day it was good enough to use as lyrics for her track.
Los Angeles 2012
She came out to Los Angeles to create her second album “This is Me.” When she arrived to Los Angeles she asked her one friend in the city who was the “absolute best photographer.” Her friend suggested Odessy Barbu. She emailed him. Barbu was at first weary because he didn’t take on artists who were just starting out. “I would never say ‘no’ to someone I didn’t meet,” Guloien recalls Barbu’s email response. Thereafter meeting, the two have now collaborated for years for both fashion and film. He was the first person she met in Los Angeles.
Her album released in 2012 and she also released her single “Voicemail” under MarlaG Productions producing her first video.
Expanding Her Career In Fashion
After working on a short film project in Paris she returned to Los Angeles for a photoshoot. The photoshoot was for the album artwork of “This is Me.” There was one problem. She gained 12 pounds overseas and couldn’t fit her clothes. She thought quick and decided to design her own jacket to wear for the shoot. Her first product appeared on “This is Me” (2012) album cover.
“One thing is always connected to the next,” Guloien said.
Two months later a stylist spotted her sporting her own threads. The stylist asked who designed her jacket and after discovering it was Guloien’s own creation she invited her to an exhibit. And that was how Guloien became a fashion designer. “One thing is always connected to the next,” Guloien said. She followed her flow and began working full-time in fashion.
Marla Guloien (photo: Odessy Barbu).
What made her clothing eye catching was how her products went against the grain. Her first customer was Nicki Minaj. Then along came Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Eve and others that compile her long list of over 100 celebrity clients. The internationally known brand has been spotted across many television shows, notably “The Voice,” “American Idol,” "Oprah," “America’s Got Talent” and many others.
Having designed a collection of over 300 jackets and becoming known for this niche design style, it's nostalgic for her to recall that even as young as five, she can remember being particular about coordinating her jacket. She recalls telling her mom she couldn’t wear a jacket on occasions, in Canada’s cold weather, when the one jacket she owned didn’t go with the outfit she wore.
Now in designing clothes, she applies all she’s learned over the years. Not just when it comes to coordinating, but going back to her studies as a Communications student learning about mass perception.
“I get this itch as a designer,” she said. “I understood how to craft a message with what I wore.”
Guloien’s goal is always to stay fluid in what you design and “identify the void in market for what people need and want.” One way she plans on doing this over the next year is by extending her product lines to include plus-size collections.
With the migration of ShopGlamRock to the Shopify platform, Guloien will be introducing new services from her online storefront, including Facetime services for custom orders, Amazon fulfillment services, registered member events and more specialized customer care.
Customization of ShopGlamRock products is a six week process or less. Shop Custom
LIVE from House of GlamRock, (Guloien's design headquarters and production zone) she is setup to be online with customers, manage the online store's new arrivals and sales events. This space is also where she produces digital media, websites, branding strategy and marketing for her company, GlamRockStudios.
Don't Forget Music
"Don't forget music," is tattooed on her rib to remind this artist to always stay true. Guloien has plans for her first passion, music. She plans to release her third album “Marla G Christmas,” for the 2017 holiday season. Excitedly, she will also release two singles, perhaps as early as April and early June. And just like her first album she plans to use real instruments and inspiring musicians.
Guloien is pursuing a female cast of musicians for this album. Producing an album highlighting the strengths and talents of female instrumentalists is an inspiring prospect for this upcoming project of jazz and soul.
Why a Christmas album? The catchiest songs are during the Christmas season and Guloien wants to add to her favourite, most nostalgic time of the year. Already written two tracks during this past holiday season, Guloien also wants to write wedding songs and more movie soundtracks.
“I want to create an album of music that will exist in the hearts and homes of everyone,”
She says for one to achieve their dream it starts with one simple thing: “Take it upon [yourself] to just get up in the morning and do what you love,” she said.
Bio: Gino Terrell is the People Editor at MCXV, also contributing by writing arts reviews, pop culture stories and human interest feature stories. Terrell covered local artists and reviewed mainstream shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under the Twin Cities Daily Planet (2014-15). He also freelanced for MinnPost and interned at Pioneer Press, KSTP TV (the Minneapolis ABC News Affiliate) and American Public Media Group. He's accumulated over 20 awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists and founded award winning student-magazine Pipers In-Depth at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). He was once the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. Follow him on Twitter: @Gin026