DeAndra Alex Talks Empowering Designers Of Color: ‘I Want To Do My Part In Making A Change’ 

The co-founder of Sip & Marvel spoke to BrownStyle Magazine about how she's elevating underrepresented fashion designers.

DeAndra Alex Of Sip & Marvel Talks Empowering Designers Of Color
Photo courtesy of DeAndra Alex

DeAndra Alex puts her heart and soul into advocating for diversity and bridging the gap between the sports and fashion industries. After seeing firsthand the disparity of media representation for athletes and fashion designers of color, the California native moved with purpose as she transitioned from journalism to public relations.

Earlier in the year, the visionary entrepreneur exuded good energy as we hopped on a Zoom call to discuss the success of Sip & Marvel, an extravagant fashion showcase for Black and Brown designers held annually during All-Star Weekend.

This year, the themed event was held in Indianapolis and featured the allure of leather, lace, and diamond decor carefully selected by celebrity event planner Courtney Ajinça. From the custom leather embossed runway to the gold basketball hoop adorned with an eye-catching diamond net, the decor added to the vibes of the night.

The luxury red velvet couches in the VIP section: a mood. The audience of tastemakers: engaged. The fashion designs from up-and-coming designers: fabulous! 

“Everything was just top notch,” DeAndra recalls of the evening that provided an elevated opportunity for Black and Brown designers to showcase their work. “The designers were highlighted. They were congratulated. They were honored. And some of the designers even made new customers and clients that day!”

What Is Sip & Marvel?

Always hosted during All-Star Weekend, Sip & Marvel is an annual fashion showcase that highlights emerging designers of color through the intersection of sports, culture, and fashion. 

The idea for the event emerged from DeAndra’s collaboration with partner, Chris Smith, who wanted to create a showcase to remember. “Chris wanted to be known for something,” she notes about the inspiration for the event that debuted in 2019.

“We wanted to create an event where influential clientele— like athletes, rappers, and influencers— can come and support up-and-coming luxury fashion designers,” DeAndra explains, underscoring the importance of representation in the fashion industry.

Sadly, tragedy struck when Chris passed away in April 2023, prompting DeAndra to carry forward their vision to create a platform for fashion newcomers.

Keeping The Legacy Going

To help new designers get the attention they need to take their businesses to the next level, Sip & Marvel’s audience consists of NBA players, fashion enthusiasts, press, and industry professionals, much like New York Fashion Week. 

Despite facing setbacks, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and personal health challenges, DeAndra remains steadfast in her commitment to Sip & Marvel’s mission of elevating emerging designers of color. 

“Sip & Marvel is something I can pour all of my passion into,” the breast cancer survivor expresses, highlighting the event’s significance in driving positive change. “I want to do my part in making a change. When I was asked to bring Sip & Marvel back, I was a little hesitant because of the sensitivity of Chris no longer being with us, but I am pushing forward his legacy.”

Challenges And How You Can Help

While this year’s Sip & Marvel was a success, it wasn’t without its complications due to limited resources. “We had to get creative because we did not have the sponsorship dollars to produce the event, but we did a pivot collectively as a team to make it work,” DeAndra reveals, noting the team pulled up their bootstraps to produce an event to remember. 

Although DeAndra says Sip & Marvel is not necessarily profitable at this time due to high production costs, she has every intention of moving forward with the help of the community. 

“Our community needs to understand that our culture is being leveraged. It’s being leveraged in a way that is padding the pockets of non-minority companies and brands, and those minority companies and brands are not giving back or providing opportunities to the communities of the very culture that they leverage. We move culture—anything that we say or do becomes hot. We should be leveraging our community to bring equity back into our own,” she adds, pointing out the power of the Black dollar. 

For those who want to support the Sip & Marvel movement, DeAndra encourages you to attend the events, donate, and spread the word about the work they are doing to uplift designers of color.

“We need our athletes, rappers, entertainers, business owners, and corporate professionals to support our community of Black/Brown designers in a huge way,” she insists before encouraging everyone to buy tickets and shop the designers’ collections.

Next Steps For Sip & Marvel

Even with challenges, DeAndra is steadfast in her goals of shining the spotlight on underrepresented people. 

When I asked DeAndra what to expect next for Sip & Marvel, she excitedly revealed the next extravaganza will be held during San Francisco’s All-Star Weekend in 2025. She also teased plans to host a lovely fundraising brunch that allows people to network with emerging designers. 

“We are going to add a Sip & Marvel brunch where we do a fireside chat with up-and-coming designers. It will be a fundraising event to raise money for the designers that showcase on our stage. We are adding a nonprofit element to Sip & Marvel specifically to do these things,” she concludes.

To learn more about Sip & Marvel and support the movement, visit

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Tweety Elitou is not new to the publishing world. Nurtured by parents who are authors and publishers, the Philadelphia native began her career as a fashion writer at the age of 13. As the former Sr. Lifestyle Editor of BET, Tweety was a key player in expanding the audience and reshaping the lifestyle vertical on the brand’s website. After working for notable media brands, the editor took some time off to enjoy the peace and pleasure of self-care and soft living. It was during this period that BrownStyle Magazine was created.