Terrance Demons Talks Being a Self-Taught Designer and Who Inspires Him in Mens Fashion

A creative entrepreneur has the ability to use their creative skills to start a business. Creative entrepreneurs know that it’s difficult to balance their talent with the needs of their business, but they continue to push through and lead by example in an forever-changing career field. Terrance Demons is a Decatur native who knew from a young age that he had a talent for photography and design. Now he designs and creates his own fur shoes, and alters his own clothes.

Photography by: Terrance Demons

Can you tell me more about what you do? 

I do a lot of things like alterations, my own photography, I had a blog and writing is something that I do off and on. I also do SEO and just general clothing design. Design is the main goal, especially with footwear.

What inspired you to start designing? 

It started with my grandmother and my mom. I remember my mom sitting down and telling me about how my grandmother used to make my granddad’s suits and she showed me a few things on her sewing machine. From there, I remember looking at the seams and the needle going into the cloth of this quilt that my grandmother was making and I was like this is actually kind of cool. I think I want to do this.

What gave you the push to actually start?

When Instagram first started I saw the big menswear push around 2011-2013. All of the brands like Thom Browne were coming to the fore. I knew that I liked the look of slim pants and I was tired of walking on the back of my pants so I thought how can I solve this problem? So I started looking at some blogs and I got in touch with an Atlanta blogger, Anastasia Nicole. I had her show me some videos and I started doing things by hand. 

Terrance design
Photography by: Terrance Demons

So you taught yourself?

Yea, self-taught pretty much. I looked at maybe five or six YouTube videos. I went to Walmart, bought needle, thread, a pair of cheap scissors and I just went to town on a pair of thrift store pants.

Who is your favorite designer right now? 

The creative director at Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia. I like his approach to how he designs and the aspect of irony that he’s always able to encapsulate within his collections. He’s always had this way of being politically charged but not so much to where you lose focus of the art. 

And those are similar things that you’d want to reflect on the clothes that you wear?

Yea, it’s the approach that I would say really resonates with me because I’ve just kind of approached life in that same way. I grew up shopping at the thrift store and then I also grew up being exposed to high fashion brands.

fur loafer design
Photography by: Terrance Demons

Do use real animal fur for your shoes? 

I do yea. That’s one of the signatures to my brand. 

Being Vegan is very popular right now. What would you say to people that are against you using real fur? 

Sustainability is key to what will lead us in the future. It is a big thing. But I would say to somebody if they questioned my ethics and why I chose fur, come talk to me and I can show you. 

Would you ever create a faux fur shoe design for your Vegan customers? 

I can provide a solution. I can do that. 

fur loafer design
Photography by: Terrance Demons

Can you walk me through how you come up with an idea for a shoe from start to finish? 

At first, I try to think about what would be comfortable for me and then for other African American men. It starts with a color and what I want to convey with that. Then I’ll go with shape. I really focus on backless loafers and mules. I go with the seasons as well. Am I creating a summer shoe? Am I going to use a lighter fur or something with heavier weight for the winter? Once I’ve gotten all those ideas in place, then comes the construction. Everything’s hand-made, hand-sewn.

If you could pick one person dead or alive, that you could put in one of your shoes, who would it be?

I want Jean-Michel Basquiat to wear my shoes because of what he represents, what he is, and the legacy that he left behind. It really resonates with who I am too. 

Do you ever find it hard to balance creating and the business side?

I definitely see challenges with that and as I get older some of those challenges definitely mount, much more so than when I was younger. I think that the creative process is one of those that just doesn’t stop. I’m always creating, whether it’s when I’m just waking up or I have to go to sleep, it’s cyclical. So I do have challenges, but I try not to let anything stop me. 

Terrance design
Photography by: Terrance Demons

What would be your advice to an upcoming creative entrepreneur?

I think in 2016 I purchased the first issue of GQ Style magazine, with Robert Downey Jr., and he talked about a similar question to yours. He said at a certain point talent will only get you so far. It really is about just putting your nose to the grindstone and never stopping whether it’s bad days or not. There has to be some progress made. 

So it’s not enough to just be talented you also have to work? 

Right. Talent will only get you so far realistically. At the end of the day, you still have to provide a solution. It’s a service business. You have to learn people’s language and speak that. 

If someone would be interested in having you alter their clothes or having you design them a customer shoe how would they contact you?

I’m all over social media. Twitter and Instagram have the same handle @TerranceJDemons and my VSCO also has that same user name. You can message me and we can talk shop. 

Jordan Bennett

"You can’t make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen." - Michelle Obama

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