De’Hollie Wood, an island native with Bahamian and Haitian descent, has been fortunate to unite her heritage with the electric cultural hub of South Florida.
Always knowing from her younger days that she had a love for fashion and niche for entrepreneurship, Wood began to make her presence known on the fashion scene when she and her longtime friend, Anthony Shaw, launched their own clothing line. With her keen fashion radar and Shaw’s sketching capabilities, Abnormal Ariginals, was born in 2009.
Later becoming the director of Public Relations and Marketing of the South Florida Chapter of Fashion Designer’s Expo (FDE), Wood quickly realized that there were no limits to the possibilities she could create for herself. Launching her very own Public Relations and Brand Management Firm, HLPR Group International, Wood is quickly becoming a well-known business woman in South Florida to-date. Lioness Divas, meet my PR agent: Nandy De’Hollie Wood Gelin, a young mogul in the making and our May Issue “Dream Catcher In Heels!”
AC – This interview is an honor to me, because I have been able to watch your growth, however, I am sure our readers would like to know, who exactly is the spicy islander behind De’Hollie Wood?
DW – Oh thank you so much! The pleasure is all mine; I’m honored for this awesome opportunity. [Laughs]
Nandy and De’Hollie are the same person, but very much so different. De’Hollie Wood is on level 10 most of the time; she’s a funny young gal who’s strong, has a passion for helping people, is determined, and is not afraid to try new things, like spending her last dollar to put on an amazing event [Laughs] or failing in any situation. Nandy is the complete opposite; she’s more laid back, she’s a home body, a movie junky, she’s self-conscious and shy (most people don’t believe that) and a quiet person (people don’t believe either). [Laughs] The two of them together just bring forth an unbelievable vibe. It’s a wonderful balance for me!
AC – Do you believe that your upbringing and childhood experiences motivated your love and passion that you possess for the fashion industry, entrepreneurship, and independence?
DW – Yes. I grew up in a single parent household with two younger siblings. I had to grow up quicker than most kids my own age. My mother worked a lot – two or three jobs at a time – to make sure that my brothers and I were good in every aspect of our lives. It was my duty as her daughter, and as the older sister of two younger boys, to help out around the house and make sure that my brothers were well taken care of. Even though my mother worked a lot she still made time to go shopping [Laughs], which was always for me. My upbringing taught me to work hard and remain humble.
AC – When did you realize that you wanted to be De’Hollie Wood, “The Brand?”
DW – It was after my first Abnormal Ariginals Fashion show. The feedback that my business partner and I received after that first show was confirmation to me that this was bigger than I could see. So immediately, I went in full swing on planning to build a solid brand. I’ve always known that I would become this “brand” that people would love and appreciate for the quality and we all know that the quality of a brand speaks volumes.
AC – How did you and your partner, Anthony Shaw, create the blue print behind your unique clothing line, “Abnormal Ariginals?”
DW – [Laughs] Anthony and I grew up together actually. We were neighbors and we went to school together, that’s how far we go back, that’s my brother from another mother, [Laughs]! He was always sketching and drawing outfits in the book he carried around with him, so I knew he had that passion. After my first attempt of starting a clothing line with a different set of people prior to ABN, I had a moment to reflect and Anthony popped into my head. I approached him [and] he loved the idea of us working together and from there the name Abnormal Ariginals was born.
Anthony is the civil engineer of our company; he comes up with the blue prints. [Laughs] He’ll just sketch something or see something and a design concept is created just like that [Laughs]. He’s awesome! I’m the business side, I make sure everything gets done in a timely manner and that our clothing brand is growing into the powerhouse that it is meant to be.
AC – Fashion Designer’s Expo, the South Florida Chapter, is an international growing company that caters to the aspiring designer, model, and artist. How has it been working for such an amazing team of people aiding to make dreams come to life? What are some of the challenges you faced, if any, holding such an esteem position as the director of PR and Marketing?
DW – I’ve been a part of the FDE family since 2009. I have learned and met so many people from all walks of life and the events that I’ve had the privilege of assisting in the productions have been mind blowing. Prior to FDE I’ve never been affiliated with a fashion production company. I found FDE on Myspace [Laughs] and I set up a meeting with Karine Melissa, the CEO about an internship position that was posted and the rest is history, five years strong! I started from the bottom as an intern and now I am the director of PR and Marketing. It’s such an accomplishment and a blessing.
AC – HLPR International PR Firm was your second baby after “Abnormal Ariginals.” Who are some of your current clients and who would you love to represent? What level or lane are you looking to take HLPR into?
DW – Yes, my current clients right now are of the Fashion Designers Expo, Abnormal Ariginals, [and] the awesome and amazing Aliyah Cherrisse [Laughs]. I also represent some lifestyle brands, local charity foundations and athletes as well.
I want to take HLPR to the highest level it can go, I have no limits, no boundaries, I see increase.
AC – Out of each of your positions held, which one has been near and dear to your heart? Which one has challenged you the most? And which one would you like to excel more in?
DW – Honestly, all the positions I’ve held, hold a place in my heart because they’ve all shown me something different. The fashion industry is very rough and cutthroat so each position requires a different level of strength. Your customer service skills have to be sharp at all time, your eye for detail must be prudent, and your negotiation skills must be strident especially in Public Relations. I have a spirit of service so, me helping someone launch a product, create a vision behind their photo shoot for a campaign, plan an event, or whatever that “help” may be, is dear to my heart. Everyone has to start somewhere, and because I have the experience to help someone that’s just starting out, is an amazing feeling.
AC – Under your belt we can place designer, business owner, Public Relations and Brand Management Agent, and Marketing Director. What else do you desire to add to your astonishing growing resume?
DW – Um, I have a couple things on my list of “To Do” [Laughs]. I definitely see myself starting more businesses. I do see myself venturing into different industries to do just that and of course being more of a philanthropist.
AC – You have been chasing your dreams for a while, but at what moment did you realize that you were now a “Dream Catcher In Heels?”
DW – “Dream Catcher in Heels” I love that! I’ve worked in the entertainment industry since I was 18. I planned and threw my own high school graduation party with a group of friends and from there I knew that I was something like a big deal [Laughs]! I’ve always had ambition; I’ve always had drive, and a strong personality. I love what I do and I’m going to keep going until the wheels fall off. [Laughs] I hope I didn’t giveaway my age. [Laughs]
AC – Oh no worries, you still look 18! [Laughs]
DW – [Laughs] Well, thank you!
AC – If there was a bit of advice that you could give to someone reading this that are hesitant about chasing their dreams, what would it be? Would you give this advice to younger self, knowing what you know now?
DW – I would say: You can’t run from your purpose; believe in yourself and never give up. It’s going to be super hard to get to the finish line but keep going. In the words of Joel Osteen, “extraordinary people have extraordinary challenge.” I’ve had people tell me that I can’t do, that I’m wasting my time, that too many people are doing what you do, blah, blah, blah. [Laughs]
If I had listened to the nonsense I wouldn’t be where I am today! I’ve worked so hard, I’ve cried, I’ve even thought about giving up, which to me is natural. However, I didn’t give up because I was looking at a bigger picture. I’m in this to win this!
A note from Aaliyah: “Don’t ever be afraid to help yourself, love yourself and build your confidence level up. We are our own worse critics, so take the time out, figure out what you don’t like, and then take the steps to fix it. Chase your dreams until you awake them. Second guessing yourself is not an option. Don’t be afraid, for God gave us the spirit of love, use that love on yourself first!”
–Signing off, Aliyah Cherrisse!