Several years ago LaKricha “Elle Marie” Murray considered moving to the West Coast to start her dream career as a fashion stylist, but ultimately, she decided to remain in her home state of Louisiana. The decision paid off. Elle Marie, the brand, has become known for dressing Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, and for creating styles worn by models in some of Grammy award winner P.J. Morton’s videos. Murray named her company by converting the first letter of her first name, “L,” to its phonetic French equivalent, which means “she,” and pairing it with her middle name, Marie.
“I always had a passion for style, and for putting looks together,” says Murray. “As a child, I was constantly cutting out pictures from magazines and designing outfits.”
As she got older, however, Murray wasn’t sure how to pursue a career as a stylist. She didn’t know anyone who worked in the field, or what courses to take in college. She figured her personal passion was better served as exactly that: an individual pursuit that would enhance her life and perhaps the lives of her friends and family. And so, after earning a bachelor of science degree in psychology at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Murray began work as a social services case manager.
While Murray enjoyed her work, the itch to work as a stylist didn’t fade. In 2016, she made a life-changing decision to enroll in the Los Angeles-based School of Style to earn certification as a Fashion Stylist. Murray learned how to dress individual clients to accentuate their body types and help them present a positive image in the workplace or on the public stage. Moreover, she learned to work as an on-set stylist for magazine fashion features, video shoots and other fashion-related media.
Back home in Louisiana, Murray shopped her new skills, landing work as a fashion writer with The Rouge Collection Magazine, and with 225 Magazine as an editorial stylist for that publication’s regular fashion issues.
“There’s a lot that happens behind the scenes in fashion shoots and on-set styling,” says Murray. “You have to dress the models, of course, but you also have to keep each piece wearable and saleable since they’re on loan from retailers. There are lots of tricks to doing that.”
Murray also began styling Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome for the elected official’s significant public events. Broome was elected in 2016 and is the first African American female to serve as the city’s top official.
In one of her most engaging projects to date, Murray was also asked to work as a stylist on a New Orleans video shoot for Grammy-award winning musician, P.J. Morton. The city, and many other parts of the state, have become robust film and video destinations, thanks to a progressive incentive program that was refined by the State of Louisiana in 2017.
“I’d never worked on a video shoot before, but I arrived with my style kit, where I keep lots of different techniques, tools and fabrics,” recalls Murray.
Murray’s style kit ended up coming in handy. When the production team was unsatisfied with the clothing that has been previously picked for one of the models, they turned to her for help. Murray sprinted to her car and found a large fabric swatch from her supply, a pattern she felt would be perfect for the look of the video. After a few quick nips and tucks, she turned it into a dress that won over the production team. Murray’s quick thinking helped her later land work on three other video shoots with the P.J. Morton team.
Since then, Murray has opened a design studio on Wooddale Boulevard in Baton Rouge where she meets with clients. Her target market is professional women who want to look their best on the job and while networking. Murray begins with a style questionnaire, which helps her clients narrow their branding goals and encourages them to pinpoint looks that work for them. Working within a client’s budget, Murray finds fitting new looks and shares them on a mood board. Once a client has chosen pieces of clothing, Murray hold a fitting session to ensure each piece looks its best.
While her career as a stylist has taken off, Murray hasn’t forgotten the joy she experienced while working in social services. To give back to the community, she has founded a monthly DIY workshop series that helps low-income girls create new looks by using inexpensive everyday items.
“These are easy projects, like creating wearable art from paperclips, making a cross-body purse from a pair of old blue jeans or a drawstring knapsack from a tee shirt,” said Murray. “It sounds simple, but it’s a great way to build confidence and self-esteem.”
In 2019, Murray was named to the Baton Rouge Business Report’s annual Forty under 40 list, which singles out high achieving young professionals in the Capital Region.
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