It was a Saturday afternoon two years ago, as I sat in my living room after a typically tiring night of work, that I stumbled upon TLZ L'FEMME. I was scrolling through random instagram accounts per the usual, looking for nothing in particular, when I stumbled upon a photo of a thin leggy girl, with the most beautiful caramel skin, a platinum blond bob, sporting what looked like black bands wrapping purposefully around her body. I figured out she was wearing a swimsuit of her own design, and although it looked like bondage, the way she was wearing it, it actually made her look … powerful.
Now if you know me, you mix power and femininity and I’m here for it. At the time, her label’s IG had about 7,000 followers and as I looked at more photos of her designs, I fell more in love with each of them, and with her. I didn’t buy anything right away, because honestly I was buying into the artistry of it all than how the actual clothes might look on ME… at first.
Each piece on her IG was modeled by the designer herself (ASZA), and her modeling of it created a context that told me a story. The clothes were a physical representation of her spirituality, of her idea of ‘divine femininity’, and I related to it immensely.
I didn’t think it was possible to relate to clothes, but I related to the story each piece seemed to tell. When I noticed the tagline for her label was “recognize the deity within,” it all seemed to make sense. As somewhat of an independent artist myself, I loved how it was evident she did all of the creative direction on her own. This worked; the key to her looks were how much of herself she poured into each piece.
Beginning my own magazine has been a learning experience, and doing so much of it myself. I often wonder if I’m doing the right thing. For this particular designer, it seemed to work. In fact, it seemed to be the key to her success. I decided I needed to know her actual story, in her own words, and I wanted to be the one to tell it. So here I am.
As I continued to follow TLASZA (that’s her IG handle) and TLBYTLASZA (her Label’s IG) I began to notice how ahead of the game she seemed to be in terms of fashion trends. She was doing the corset over the t shirt thing way before the Jenner/Kardashians really made it a thing, and some of her designs were worn by Kylie herself in photoshoots and in some viral IG posts. I even saw Fashion Nova rip off some designs that were really obviously TLZ L'FEMME and calling it “The Kylie Set”. . .
I’ve seen Brandy, Iggy, Kylie, Karrueche, Lauren Jauregui from Fifth Harmony, Mila J, and Tokyo Stylez among other celebs create quite a stir online wearing her pieces, and I’ve also seen her designs pop up in a few influencer photo shoots, including Nicole Williams’ (@justtnic) engagement shoot, where she sported some TLZ L'FEMME latex white briefs.
The day I decided to slide into ASZA’s DMs I was 50/50 on whether she would respond, and I was mentally preparing myself to write this without being able to pick her brain, but she responded. I DMed her explaining I had just started an online magazine for bad-ass, hustling ass, women and would love to interview her.
To my surprise she responded quickly, graciously thanking me for the support, and apologizing for her sporadic typing, since she was feeding her son. After a few weeks, one morning she called me up, and I finally got to pick her brain. I won’t try and write out the entire conversation because that would be wildly inefficient, so allow me to paraphrase our conversation for you.
I was relieved at how naturally the conversation flowed. We spoke about a number of things, but I was most interested in her journey as a female entrepreneur. Where did she start?
She told me she was from Oakland California. She started in the fashion industry early on as a model --which I told her made all the sense in the world, since she modeled all her own designs and the shots always came out fire. She told me that although she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur and do her own thing, part of the process involved doing the 9-5 thing for a while. Then in 2007, she launched her own swimsuit line.
I went on to tell her how her designs seemed so custom made, and I wondered if she made them herself in the beginning.
She said she did begin by making all her pieces herself, teaching herself how to sew in the process. She told me she definitely believes in receiving a quality education, but she also believes in the school of hard knocks, and that is precisely where she got her edge.
Self taught designer, seamstress, and merchandiser, she learned to rely on herself, disciplining herself to work day and night, and working out of the garage in her home to launch her first pieces.
I asked her about being a mom and an entrepreneur. I often think about this. Entrepreneurs never get to “clock out” And when I think about running a business I always wonder how women with babies do it all. She shed some light:
Me: What do you think is the hardest part about being a mother and being an entrepreneur?
Asza: (paraphrased) Hmm. The hardest thing? I’ll have to say the stress is the hardest part. When you have a child, they need most of your time and attention, so I have to skip out on time to take care of myself. Self love is so important, especially when you’re dealing with the stress of running your own business. Where I used to have time to workout, now I’m breastfeeding. When I become a mom, I gave him the time I usually had to take care of me. Your baby will come before you always, and it’s hard to carve that time out to take care of just you.
Me: What do you think is the best part about being a mother and entrepreneur?
Asza: The best part is definitely being able to do things the way I want to. I can say “I’m going to dedicate the day entirely to my son,” and I can actually do that. I can choose to kill myself working one day, so that I can have uninterrupted time with my son later. I can do things how I see fit, whenever I see fit.
What advice would you give to girls eager to follow in your footsteps, choosing to be an entrepreneur over having a typical job?
Plan. Plan all the way through. Prepare yourself for everything you want to do. Preparation and planning is key. If you’re a designer, plan out your seasons ahead of time, and don’t put anything out until it is absolutely ready. Even though things may not always go to plan, planning will help you bounce back much easier when things don’t go the way you thought they would.
Her advice resonated with me for sure. If you’re trying to create anything from scratch, it is really important to schedule yourself and prepare yourself because things do go awry. If you didn’t have a plan in place, it’s much harder to reposition yourself.
Me: What do you think is next for you?
Shoes! And my music. I’ve been working on my music for a while, and it’s finally all going to come together. I always struggled to picture how all those things could come together but they are. The clothes, the shoes, the music, it’s all coming together and it’s making sense. It’s a blessing.
First of all, she would kill shoes, so I’m definitely excited for that. Even through the phone I could feel how spiritual and grounded she was. We ended the conversation speaking about her upcoming fashion show on October 13 during LA Fashion Week (hopefully I’ll be able to get out there to cover it).
I ordered some pieces way before the interview which came faster than I expected. The day I received the Red Vinyl top and Black Patent Leather Corset skirt in the mail (from her last collection) I decided to do a fun photoshoot showing my version of how the clothes made me feel, even in the sweltering Miami heat.
I love how wearable the pieces are in everyday life; they are also avante-garde as f*ck. Although wearing vinyl in 90 degree weather might not seem like the most logical thing to do, the pieces did not make me sweat or feel sticky like most faux leather/ vinyl does, and the fit was exactly how I imagined. I didn’t even have to finesse anything. The skirt hugged my hips snugly and the top hung off my body in cool ways. I actually ended up wearing the top like a jacket. That’s exactly how I imagined her pieces would end up on me, super versatile, and I definitely made them my own.
TLZ FEMME designs continue to be about a year ahead of current fashion trends and her sexy, dominatrix, I’m-the-f*cking-queen-boss-bitch-of-the-world designs impress me more with each new release. I think my favorite part of her designs lies in how much she plays with masculinity and femininity. The balance of both in each of her pieces conveys the ultimate divine feminine power.
If you’re a bad-ass babe who wants to let the world know with every step you take what a boss you are, wear TLZ L' FEMME.
We f*ck with it. She just dropped her fall line called “Resort 18” and it’s now available on TLZ L' FEMME.COM .