Behind the styles of some of the greatest athletes including NFL hotshots and NBA rockstars, stands Jhoanna Alba, the founder and principal designer of ALBA: Bespoke Clothing. She has created hundreds of styles for her famous clientele and has dressed sports heroes like Magic Johnson and Russell Westbrooke.
Having such a niche of unique customers, Alba has had quite the ride during her career. Her success lies in her ability to create what her clients want in a short time span.
We sat down with the athletic style guru to ask about her success in fashion and find out what it is like to dress superstars like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Andre Drummond.
How did you end up in fashion?
My mother taught me how to sew by hand when I was six years old. I started sketching designs when I was 10 and making my own clothes. I always knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry.
One of my first jobs was working at a tuxedo shop in Beverly Hills. At 16, I was managing the highest volume tuxedo shop in the country. I loved working and styling Grooms for their wedding. I was styling major events and fell in love with menswear.
Tell us a little about your experience coming up in the fashion world - how competitive is it?
When I started my first company at the age of 21, I asked a lot of questions to potential clients. What would separate me from other companies? I took a lot of notes and executed a game plan. Feedback is important for the growth of any company. As far as competition, I do not believe there is competition in the fashion industry. Everyone has their own vision and purpose.
What's the craziest request you've ever had whilst making clothes?
I recently made this for Andre Drummond for The Espy's. Being 6'11, 280lbs, this was a unique design we created. We hand painted the jacket to give it a splash of color and completed the look we were going for. Red is Andre's favorite color so it was important to incorporate it on his suit.
How would you define your style?
Classic with a modern flare.
What is it like creating outfits for athletes - is it difficult given their different body dimensions?
Every client has their own input. It's a collaboration and my job is to educate them. With 36 different measurements, our master tailors cut the perfect fit for each individual.
How is it competing against the big male names within the industry?
Having a production house in DTLA, we are able to produce suits within 24 hours. ALBA is a very customer service driven company with our brand being the main focus. Other designers have their own business mottos that we respect.
What's your busiest season?
We are busy year round being we service NBA, MLB, and NFL. In addition, we have partnered with Robert Mata, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, stylists in which we manufacture clothes for the HBO hit show Ballers as well as his personal wardrobe. We also service clients in the entertainment industry, so nonetheless, we are busy year round.
What's next for you this year?
We have partnered with a family from Colombia where we have hired single mothers to make hand made custom shoes ranging from size 10-19. Our ultimate goal is to build a school across the street from the factory where their children can get an education, while their mothers work. It has been an honor working with Donum, which means blessed in Latin.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."