Lynchburg native India Watson has been creating her own clothing for nearly a decade. What started as a teenager expanding her wardrobe with a needle and thread has become a staple in the local fashion industry. Now known as India Laposh, she has managed to make her designs not only current and trendy, but also timeless and quite stunning.
Q. What inspired the name of your fashion house, “House of Laposh”?
A. I thought of Laposh years ago when I lived in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was never intended to be more than just a Facebook name. From the beginning, I knew whatever name I came up with for my brand needed to be something original, something I had never heard before. I wanted this name to scream everything that I stood for, yet I wanted it be bold enough to catch people’s ears. Soon everyone had dropped the India in my name and just started calling me Laposh at that moment. That’s when I knew “House of Laposh” was perfect.
Q. What statement do you want your designs to make?
A. Every designer designs for the individual person, but you have to maintain a cohesive look within your designs. Everything that runs through my sewing machines is bold and very me. It can be risky, but what’s life without a little risk. I design for those seeking luxury and comfortability.
Q. What do you feel are your proudest career achievements thus far?
A. Each year as the New Year approaches, I set new goals for myself. I’ve set goals that some have thought to be unachievable, but I use that doubt to motivate me. This year alone has been amazing. Not only did I achieve the goals I set, but I’ve already surpassed them. I was blessed with the opportunity to style a well-known transgender actress, Laverne Cox, of “Orange Is the New Black.” I worked with reality star Erica Mena. I recently styled Shauna Brooks. This was also my second year participating in Richmond Fashion Week. My designs were the finale of the fashion show. As the saying goes, they saved the best for last. Ultimately, the proudest moment of them all would have to be the first time I held my company’s LLC in my hands. Now, it’s official. Laposh is permanent.
Q. Obviously you’re a trendsetter, but who are your role models? Who inspires you?
A. I really don’t have any role models in reference to designers. If you were to ask me to list my top ten favorite designers, I could only name about five because I don’t keep up with anything other than what I’m doing. Just so you know the level of extreme, I stopped watching television in the ninth grade to avoid the influence of other designs. I like to think of myself as my own role model. I inspire myself to be the best person that I can be and to never underestimate myself. I have those who give me support and encourage me to not give up. Mainly, my family, because they are the only ones whose loyalty I’ve never had to question. So when it all comes down, everything I do, it’s to secure a good life for me as well as my parents. I am a reflection of them and they deserve nothing but the best because they did an amazing job with me. They deserve the best in return.
Q. You mentioned how supportive your family has been. It is a given that growing up and dealing with puberty is hard for all of us. I would imagine it was even more difficult for you, being born with a body that you didn’t identify with. Was your family involved in your decision to transition from male to female?
A. I can think back as far as before elementary school. I knew that the ideal life society had chosen for me to live wasn’t meant for me. I always go back to this very clear memory of me in my Grandma’s house, sitting on her living room carpet, thinking that one day I would be able to live the life that I wanted to live and become one with my womanhood. My transition began while I was in college in Atlanta, so I was surrounded by friends who were very supportive and protective of me. Transitioning in Atlanta was a big support in itself, as it’s known to be a welcoming place for African Americans in the LGBT community.
I was nervous about coming back and facing family, only because it was somewhat unexpected to them. I was living in my truth and felt free when I was away from everyone, but when I came back home during college breaks, I was back to being restricted. So I did downplay the changes for a short amount of time until I couldn’t handle it anymore. I realized that I had to do what was right for me. I had to live for me. I told myself as long as my family knows and accepts me I’m 100 percent satisfied with that, so explaining to anybody else was irrelevant because I didn’t feel I owed an explanation to anyone. Once my family caught on, there was nothing more to be explained. It took a while to get used to, just like anything that you aren’t used to, but soon I found myself shopping with my Grandma for handbags and heels. So, honestly, life was better. My family accepted me. My Grandma told me one thing that I’ll always take with me: “Do what makes you happy, because you don’t want to grow old and living off of shoulda, coulda, wouldas.” That alone was all the advice I ever needed.
Q. What advice would you give to someone struggling with their own gender identity?
A. I would say you’re not alone and it’s perfectly fine. For many years, in my younger days, I was under the impression that I was alone and I would have to flee everything just to be able to live how I wanted to — but that wasn’t true. Growing up in a city where being transgender was practically nonexistent, and people lacked the knowledge of what exactly transgender means, can be very difficult. No one can change how you feel on the inside. Until your outside matches your inside, that incomplete feeling will always be there. You have to live for yourself. You have to walk your own path. It’s a path only you can steer. Being transgender has absolutely nothing to do with being gay. Your gender identity doesn’t define your sexuality. Live your life, do what makes you happy, and be the best representation of you.
Q. Do you feel that disclosure is a must when meeting new people? Dating can be a minefield. Do you think it’s harder for someone who is transgender? Speaking of which, how do you feel about the word transgender? Is it offensive?
A. Disclosure for me is extremely important. I have always disclosed my past life. Usually when dating locally, people beat me to it. But I always give confirmation, which is why I get a lot of respect. Do I think it’s harder for a trans person to date? Absolutely not. Dating has never been an issue for me. When I meet guys, they want to know me, nothing more and nothing less. They want to know who I am. No, transgender isn’t offensive to me. It is what it is; I’m not super big on categorizing everyone. Society is.
Q. Thank you for your openness in this interview. I have one last request. Describe yourself in one sentence. Who is India?
A. India is a force to be reckoned with …
Visit India’s website to view
and purchase items from
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