After meeting blogger Imani Talib at last summer's Smashin Fashion stylist competition, her style blog 'Inpsiration's Muse' quickly became an obsession. By employing visually arresting, photo-heavy entries using strong themes, Talib has succeeded in her goal of providing a boutique blog experience for her readers. "I want to have my own store, and that's how I want my blog to feel--like a boutique," explained Imani, on a lunch break from her internship at ZB-PR. "I'm inspired by the visual. Even here at Tiny Boxwoods--out of all the places in Houston we could eat, we're here. Why? Because of the food, the music, the atmosphere. I want my blog to be like that, I want people to be drawn in and to come back, like a real store."
In spite of the visual focus--or probably because of it--Imani succeeds in telling a story, even with very few words. One of her common themes is "Experience," in which she chooses a new muse and assembles images that inspire her; it's a feature she started using on Instagram that she transitioned to the blog. Past "Experience" themes include Like a Fine Wine and Fall 2014, while other posts feature designer collections, upcoming style events, and "Style Muse" inspirations.
A Houston native, Imani graduated from Galena Park and then did her first year of college at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Returning to Houston and enrolling in UH had a lot to do with the emerging fashion scene in her hometown. "I think I'm where I'm supposed to be. I love fashion, and I love the business side of fashion," explained Imani. "Helping people share their work, and communicate what sets them apart--I want to help them deliver that message." In addition to her internship, and her studies at UH, Imani also works at local boutique Carrie Ann--everything in her everyday life is a source of inspiration.
"I would almost rather window shop," Imani said when asked where she likes to shop around the city. "I love shopping, but I have to see everything and take everything before making a decision. My friends and family know that even with a menu, at a restaurant it will take me all day to choose!" The Galleria remains one of her favorite shopping destinations, just as it was when she was a kid and her mom ran a hair salon across the street, and Imani currently has her eye on St. Cloud in Rice Village--her face lit up when she talked plans to shop there in the near future. Stash and Space Montrose are also favorites.
Less interested in trends, Imani prefers to focus on the small details that set a designer or a boutique apart from the crowd. "When I look for something unique, I look for that detail--is it just a red dress, or is it a red dress with leather piping or detailed stitching or a great collar--something to set it apart." To that end Imani keeps a close eye on young, emerging Houston designers from the Art Institute and HCC. She recently attended shows by Rammy Tak and Lee Yates--both AI students--and believes that bolstering Houston's emerging design talent, and encouraging them to keep their talents local, will further Houston's growing fashion reputation.
"If we work to keep the talent here at home--if boutiques carry [local designers'] work, and we support the industry here in Houston--we can maintain that growth," said Imani. "I just did a post last week on Lee Yates, because I attended his show. It's about cultivating these relationships and making Houston a great place for fashion. It is already, but we can do more and we should."