Fans tune in to American Idol each week not to just root for their favorite contestants but to hear the colorful, entertaining quips from the judges.
However, during an episode last month, Idol judge Randy Jackson had fans everywhere buzzing – not over something he said, but something he wore. Jackson’s sparkly Swarovski crystal, Betty Boop-looking pendent created such a stir on social media sites that it became a Twitter trending topic and even has its own Facebook page.
And nobody was more thrilled than the husband-and-wife duo who designed the pin – Shreveport natives Dennis Robinson II and Latasha Henderson Robinson. The pin, called “Taboo,” is from their accessory line, VonRay Custom Accessories, available here. (You can also follow them on Twitter.)
The couple, who now lives in New York City, will be home this weekend to showcase their latest designs Saturday night in The VonRay Theater Fashion Show, as part of Southern University at Shreveport’s Spring Festival. The show starts at 6:45 p.m. inside SUSLA’s gymnasium and admission is free.
I had a chance to chat with Latasha about everything from how the couple met to what you can expect at a VonRay show:
Donecia: Let’s start from the beginning: You’re both Shreveport natives, born and bred, one a Captain Shreve graduate, the other a Huntington High graduate. So how did you two meet in the first place?
Latasha: I’m originally from Shreveport. Dennis was born in Houston and raised in Jacksonville, N.C. and he came to Shreveport in his late middle school term. Dennis and I met working in Demo, a retail store, about six years ago. We didn’t like each other at first, but we end up being good friends.
At the time I was working with the youth in the area and shooting films that I shopped around to different film festivals and Dennis would assist me by acting and helping me direct them. We became closer as friends and ended up in a relationship that led to marriage! I can say I married one of my best friends. We fit well.
Donecia: Shreveport isn’t really known for its designers, so where did that dream or passion come from? How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
Latasha: I have been designing and drawing since I was eight and I’ve known this is what I was supposed to be doing since I was young and my mother would let me pick her clothes out. She taught me and my siblings how to sew. I actually started working for Dada Footwear at the age of 15 and worked with celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, The Steve Harvey Show cast, Chris Webber, Ludacris and whoever else Dada Footwear would have me to assist them with. Dennis has been drawing his whole life. We both love to look unique and he draws animation characters and designs their clothes very uniquely.
Donecia: So how did you end up in New York?
Latasha: We ended up in New York sort of by plan. We auditioned for Project Accessory in Chicago and made it through to the last cut, but we didn’t get chosen. At the time we were still living in Shreveport. We were both pulling two jobs and Dennis was attending LSUS. Dennis graduated in last May and we prayed and asked God to guide us. We had New York City/New Jersey in the pit of our stomachs, so we stepped out on faith. We sold all of our furniture, drove my ‘96 Honda packed down with our clothes and other things and we’ve been on the east coast ever since.
Donecia: How did VonRay Accessories get started? And where did the name VonRay come from?
Latasha: Well, we always have reconstructed clothes & made clothes and Dennis sketches animations. So, one day he brought me a necklace home from (retail store) The Buckle and I liked it. Dennis said, ‘You know we can make this stuff and save money,” and I laughed, but the next day we went shopping for findings. We dissected the necklace and made a similar necklace, but it looked better. I wore the necklace and got a lot of compliments. People wanted pieces and we began creating all types of things. And VonRay is my middle name “Vondelette” fused with Dennis middle name “Ray.”
Donecia: When did the celebrities take notice?
Latasha: Celebrities started taking notice about three years ago… We made stuff for Cheri Dennis and Black Eyed Peas about two to three years ago.
Donecia: Tell me about the night that Randy Jackson wore one of your pieces on American Idol. Did you know he was going to be wearing it?
Latasha: Well, Randy came into Dennis’ job and asked him where did he get the pin he was wearing. Dennis informed Randy that he was one of the creators and took him to our display in Atrium. Randy purchased a few pins. A month later I was working with a stylist, pulling clothes for a magazine shoot and Dennis was at work. Dennis’ cousin Kaylee asked me what piece did Randy get and I explained. Then, she took a snapshot of the pin off of the TV and texted it to me. I went crazy! Then people that knew our pieces started calling and texting, including one of my best friends from Louisiana.
My phone rang off the hook until it died, but before it died I sent Dennis the pic and Dennis went crazy too! We got home and it was all over the Internet. A fan even created a page for Randy Jackson’s pin… I think I cried like three times praising God… It was surreal. We didn’t know he was going to wear it.
Since then celebrity stylists pull our pieces for editorial shoots and performances. We are getting sells now and it’s like people love pieces that this actual celebrity wears. They love the pieces!
Donecia: What can people expect to see at the VonRay Theater Fashion Show?
Latasha: If you come to The VonRay Theater of Fashion Show on Saturday, you will see the crazy creativity that is buried in our heads. You will see something that you have never seen on a runway…We don’t put on average runway shows, (she laughs) Never have and never will. We believe in being very entertaining…Come and see.
Donecia: What’s next for you guys?
Latasha: We are featured in several upcoming magazine issues and more celebrities are wearing our pieces. We don’t just make pins, we create a lot of unique pieces. We plan on getting a showroom and being placed in more music videos and films.