Here at 360 Magazine, we were honored to speak with the athleisure pioneer and cannabis queen, Kelly Dooley. With her impressive, luxurious brands–Luxe Branding Haus and BodyRock Sport–Dooley stays busy revolutionizing how athletic wear can empower her customers. When she isn’t designing her avant-garde, fabulous pieces, Dooley can be found working with lifestyle and luxury cannabis brands, as well as involving herself with several real estate and technology projects. Dooley is a trailblazer who sets forth on her dreams with determination and undeniable spunk. We sat down with Kelly Dooley to speak about her recent sports bra design for Britney Spears, her best solutions for combatting stigma surrounding the cannabis industry, and how she finds inspiration.
What was it like creating a bra for superstar Britney Spears? How did you feel when you first found out about the project?
When I first launched BodyRock Sport in January 2010, I had an insatiable desire to beautify activewear for like-minded women that combined fitness and fashion in a way that had not been done before.
The moment that I found out that Britney Spears was rocking my $20,011 Eternal Love Sports Bra from my most popular Zip’ Up collection with the Jessica Moto leggings from my Show ‘Em Some Swagger collection in her comeback “Twister” music video was absolutely surreal. My baby, BodyRock Sport, was on fire. I was breaking all the rules and taking names–one celeb at a time. I was empowering women to love the skin they’re in, while pursuing my dream with reckless abandonment in the heart of New York City.
I neither made the sports bra nor the leggings specifically for her, but due to the intricacy of the design–which included black and silver French silk and a diamond-eyed skull tassel attached to a solid gold zipper pull–and based on the purposely inflated price, I knew that the design would inevitably adorn an A-List celebrity. Britney was on my manifestation list and my dream came true with Godspeed. I was honored and proud of myself for achieving my goal. 2012 represented a dramatic turning point in the overwhelmingly lackluster world of athleisure, and I–the avant-garde, fabulous, over-educated and extremely quirky SoCal girl–was being heralded as one of the pioneers of the activewear industry.
I knew that my Dad was beaming down at me from heaven with pride. I recall getting hundreds of Google alerts because the music video went viral–not only because of the extravagant sports bra that she wore– but also because Britney Spears finally returned to the stage with a vengeance after overcoming her former hardships. She was also often seen out and about in Los Angeles rocking some of my other sports bra designs and booty shorts. Every now and then, I spot her in the tabloids or online wearing a design that I created a decade ago. The surge of gratitude never dissipates.
At the time, luxury activewear was virtually impossible to find so I felt passionate about innovating the industry that so desperately needed to evolve. Believe it or not, the first sports bra EVER was not even invented until 1977. The design looked as though it had been produced solely for hospital patients–not for vivacious women, like me, who prioritize both their inner and outer beauty. If wanting to look and feel my best makes me narcissistic, then I will unapologetically own that title. My entire squad of customers, all of whom represent a constellation of stars, are stellar in their own ways.
What is your artistic process in creating a new piece? More specifically, how did you come up with the design for the iconic bra?
My creative process is very Faulknerian in nature. I instinctively follow a stream-of-consciousness approach for everything in life when it comes to creativity–whether that be a sports bra design, a customized piece of furniture or a lavish dinner for a loved one. I go with, and grow with, the flow. My overarching objective in creating extravagant sports bras was two-fold.
On the one hand, I knew that I capitalize on the white space in the activewear industry by targeting my demographic, which had been egregiously disregarded for so long. I could not comprehend why bras like the one I envisioned in my head had not yet existed!
On the other hand, because I got my M.A. in Media, Culture and Communication Studies with an emphasis in social media and luxury consumption from New York University in 2008, I knew that I could strategically leverage social media at a time when Instagram was still in its infancy and when Facebook was ubiquitous, still existing as the epicenter for digital communication. Therefore, my ridiculously expensive, bespoke sports bra designs had viral appeal that would boost my website traffic; thereby introducing customers to my other eclectic, yet more affordable, designs that ranged from $44-$85. At the time, these prices were considered outrageous since the median, high end sports bra price industry wide was around $30.
Each design that launched was inspired by women who have inspired me. These woman include my Mom, who is my hero; my bestie Jasmine Kingsley, who is a queen in her own right currently dominating as a lawyer for HUDL in Lincoln, Nebraska and raising two beautiful mixed children with the love of her life. Further, the ZuZu Bra was named after my beautiful hair stylist and make-up artist, Zuleika Acosta. She now owns hair salon in Brooklyn called ZuZu Studio. I am so proud of all of the dreams that she manifested with unwavering intention since the second I met her while getting my hair styled at Bumble and Bumble’s styling bar at Bloomingdales on 59th in New York City back in 2010. Even Angelina Jolie, when she starred in Tomb Raider sexily clad in black leather [has been an inspiration].
Every creation that I created was different, just like the plethora of exceptional women who inspired the design. [These creations] empower women to love the skin they’re in. [The designs] encourage them to fully embrace their femininity with just enough bite to remain authentic in a society that has successfully brainwashed females into idealizing an unrealistic standard of beauty. [This unrealistic standard of beauty] exacerbates mental health issues worldwide by diminishing self-esteem, which has proven globally to be utterly detrimental.
There were seven staple collections based on women’s respective needs, dubbed: (1) Dim Your Headlights; (2) Keep ’em in; (3) Lock ’em Down, (4) Show ’em Off; (5) The Empower ’em Collection, which was marketed as the world’s most fashionable mastectomy bra endorsed by Giuliana Rancic; (6) Yogansita; and (7) Zip ’em Up. I also had an assortment of booty shorts, capris, cycling shorts, gloves, leggings, moto-jackets, swimwear, and tops.
The Zip ’em Up Collection was hands down the most popular collection. From that collection came The Sophia Bra: a pink, ditsy, floral Supplex adorned with a gold zipper. [The Sophie Bra], embellished with a combination of gold studs and Swarovski crystals on the piping, was the star of the show. The same month that Britney Spears reminded the world of who she was by wearing The Eternal Love Bra, The Sophia Bra got confirmed for Oprah’s O List, which was another goal that I was determined to manifest.
Where do you usually find inspiration for designing with your company Luxe Branding Haus?
The world is my playground. I’ve had the unique privilege of living in Southern California, Boston, New York City, and studied abroad in 8 different countries, from middle school through graduate school . I travel all over the world as an explorer.
This montage of vivid experiences has helped me develop a global perspective and a sophisticated eye that is heavily influenced by architecture and interior design. Luxury fashion from the world’s most reputable brands, [including] Louis Vuitton, sets the precedent not only for customer service. [Vuitton’s] artful, fashion-forward yet elegant design, and overall quality [sets the standard].
[Dooley finds inspiration] by being a voracious reader with a monomaniacal desire to eternally innovate, whilst blazing a purposeful trail in every industry that I strut my fancy feet into while living a life of purpose. More than anything, it’s my heart and hustle that sets me, as the founder, apart. Coupled with the juxtaposition of luxury design, social media marketing, and postmodernism, that is what makes Luxe Branding Haus such an avant-garde and purpose-driven company.
Rather than thinking outside-the-box, as many creatives are naturally inclined to do, I design as if there is no box– because the norm does not interest me. Basic [fashion]–such as Coach, Lululemon and Michael Kors, for example– are of no interest to me. In a world of disempowering monotony, standing out is an absolute anomaly and is a surefire way to create positive change in a world that is controlled with fear, rather than trusted with faith. Why blend in when I was born to stand out?
We all live in the same world, but not on the same frequency. Luxe Branding Haus follows the same luxury strategies invented in Europe and [has been] developed worldwide by predominantly French and Italian brands. We have several lifestyle and luxury cannabis brands launching in California this year as well as several game-changing real estate and technology projects. [They] are going to influence each respective industry indefinitely through integrated, cause-based marketing and other non-traditional strategies. [Through these projects, Dooley aims] to create positive change in a world that so desperately needs authenticity, genuine inspiration and a resurgence of utilitarian principles that will make the world a better place.
Is your personal style reflected in the pieces and styles you do for other people, or are the designs more-so dependent on the individual?
My designs are, often, heavily dependent on the individual. I have styled countless men and women over the last 13, years and I treat each project differently. To me, the human body is the equivalent of a blank canvas to an artist. Take, for example, Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” from 1665. The combination of paint that he used and the brushes that he chose to create that world-renowned masterpiece is the same refined yet free-flowing process that I utilize when it comes to my designs. The only difference is that consumer products and humans are my canvas, and luxury design is the vehicle through which my visions come to life in full form.
How can the stigma surrounding the cannabis industry be best combatted?
Clinical trials, the decriminalization of cannabis, education, and luxury branding, in my opinion, will play the most fundamental roles in de-stigmatizing the cannabis industry. Luxe Branding Haus is revolutionizing the cannabis industry. I am so excited for the slow trickle of our diverse assortment of brands, all of which will resonate with different demographics. At the same time, [these brands will aid in] educating and enhancing the lifestyles of our vast clientele and hopefully helping them achieve true bliss through holistic health via cannabis–which is THE TRUTH–the universal panacea for virtually every ailment. All our brands are tied to a cause with the intention of boosting morality by imbuing the industry with pay-it-forward principles that will help mitigate some of the issues that have been so detrimental to humanity. My most fervent philanthropic passions are domestic violence awareness, mental health awareness, social equity, and suicide prevention.
How do you see the LA cannabis industry evolving in the next few years?
The LA cannabis industry will gradually commoditize and therefore become ubiquitous and normalized. Once cannabis goes federally legal, consumers will need to be more educated than ever to avoid being manipulated by the sociopaths who lead big pharma, one of the most evil juggernauts in the world. [Big Pharma] takes more lives than it saves lives, and that does more harm than good.
Do you have any other exciting projects coming up in 2021?
2021 is stacked with a vast array of blessed projects, and I could share all my secrets, but I’d rather wet your palates. All I can say is to be sure to prepare your tastebuds for the most luxurious branding and the most superb quality in the cannabis industry.