Fashion, music and film; Marla Guloien lives out her dreams

Her home’s showroom is decked with studio lights, four screen monitors to remind her how busy she is, pictures of celebrities such as Eve and Christina Aguilera rocking her clothing line and the interior design is spiffy enough to know this fashion designer lives by the motto of her clothing line “Glam Rock is a life style. Glam Rock is an attitude. Be bold. Be who you are.”

Marla Guloien’s showroom (photo: Marla Guloien).

Being prepared for the moment has led to a successful career for Marla Guloien; and with her plans for 2017, she’s showing no signs of stopping.

Music artist and founder of internationally known fashion line Shop Glam Rock, which services 109 celebrity clients, is making moves this year. Guloien has been busy working on new products and inputting the shop’s inventory to Shopify, where consumers can purchase the brand via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. This past Wednesday, two new designs released exclusively on Instagram. Consumers can expect more to come in the coming weeks.

On top of that, she plans to release a Christmas album later this year.

“I believe in being prepared for the moment of opportunity and living with no fear of being your best,” Guloien said.

Throughout her career she’s done just that and it all started when she saw an opportunity to use her college project to jumpstart her music career. And through music is how she initiated her career in fashion.

How it all started

Studying Communications at Simon Fraser University in Canada she had one final project before graduating. There were three components to the project. Create a CD booklet insert, design a marketing package for a new artist and produce a stationary kit to start up. She thought to herself why not market herself as the new artist and try to start a career in music.

It took only six weeks to write the music for her first album.

One week before graduating her father managed to connect her with the popular Canadian musician Miles Black, to help producer her album. After her debut tour in 2009 she published her first album “Marla Guloien” in 2010.

Genetic passion for music

The Canadian native grew up in a musical family stemming from her father’s side with her grandfather and uncle both saxophone players. Singing at her grandparents’ anniversary, with over 200 people in attendance, Guloien remembers singing a song from Little Mermaid.

“So incredible and encouraging,” Guloien recalls the moment.

Her track “Take Bow” even came from a poem she had written when she was 12. Originally written for a class project only to hear her teacher say it wasn’t good enough for class, she kept that notebook and one day it was good enough to use as lyrics for her track.

She flew out to Los Angeles to create her second album “This is Me.” When she arrived to Los Angeles she asked her one friend in the city who was the “absolute best photographer.” Her friend suggested Odessy Barbu. She emailed him. Barbu was at first weary because he didn’t take on artists who were just starting out.

“I would never say ‘no’ to someone I didn’t meet,” Guloien recalls Barbu’s email response.

They met and ever since continued to work together. And he was the first person she met in Los Angeles.

Her album released in 2012 and she also released her single “Voicemail” under MarlaG Productions producing her first video.

Expanding her career in fashion

Marla Guloien (phto
Marla Guloien (photo: Odessy Barbu).

After working on a short film project in Paris she returned to Los Angeles for a photoshoot. The photoshoot was for the album artwork of “This is Me.” There was one problem. She gained 12 pounds overseas and couldn’t fit her clothes. She thought quick and decided to design her own jacket to wear for the shoot. Her first product appeared on “This is Me” (2012) album cover.

Two months later a stylist spotted her sporting her own threads. The stylist asked who designed her jacket and after discovering it was Guloien’s own creation she invited her to an exhibit. And that was how Guloien became a fashion designer.

“One thing is always connected to the next,” Guloien said.

She worked full-time in fashion and as a glamour girl. What made her clothing eye catching was how her products went against the grain. Her first customer was Nicki Minaj. Then along came Shakira, Christina Aguilera, Eve and others that compile her long list of 109 celebrity clients. The internationally known brand has been spotted across many television shows, notably “The Voice,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “America’s Got Talent” and others.

Having designed a collection of over 300 jackets its nostalgic Guloien has been known for it, considering that ever since she was five she was particular about coordinating her jacket. She recalls telling her mom she couldn’t wear a jacket on occasions, in Canada’s cold weather, when the one jacket she owned didn’t go with the outfit she wore.

Now designing clothes she applies all she’s learned over the years. Not just when it comes to coordinating, but going back to her studies as a Communications student learning about mass perception.

“I get this itch as a designer,” she said. “I understood how to craft a message with what I wore.”

Plans for 2017

Marla Guloien (photo: Odessy Barbu).
Marla Guloien (photo: Odessy Barbu).

Through clothing Guloien’s goal is the same as always, “identify void in market.” One way she plans on doing so this year is by making spiffy wear for plus-size consumers.

Along with implementing Shopify, Guloien will be busy customizing products for clients. She’s set up a space where she can be online with customers to help create the piece they desire. Customization of Shop Glam Rock products is a six week process. Upon rush order Guloien could speed the process up as fast as a 14 to 18 day turnaround.

Along with fashion Guloien has plans for her first passion, music. She plans to release her third album “Marla G Christmas,” for the holiday season and two singles as early as April and early June. And just like her first album she plans to use real instruments and is looking to collaborate with young lady instrumentalists to create a mix of jazz and soul.

Why a Christmas album? The catchiest songs are during the Christmas season and Guloien wants to add to her favorite, most nostalgic time of the year.

“I want to create an album that will exist in the hearts and homes of everyone,” she said.

Already written two tracks during this past holiday season, Guloien also wants to write two wedding songs as she’s feeling inspired with both of her sisters planning to get married.

She also plans to speak at her alma matter, as she’s annually done for years now.

Throughout her career Guloien has been able to apply one of her favorite adages “if you can dream it, you can do it.” She says for one to achieve their dream it starts with one simple thing.

“Take it upon [yourself] to just get up in the morning and do what you love,” she said.

And that’s certainly worked out for Guloien.

By Gino Terrell

This article was originally published in MCXV, January 13, 2017.


Gino Terrell is the Director of Content at Hidden Valley Culture Blog/In-Depth section. Terrell covered local artists and reviewed mainstream shows in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area under the Twin Cities Daily Planet (2014-15). He also freelanced for MinnPost and interned at Pioneer Press, KSTP TV (the Minneapolis ABC News Affiliate) and American Public Media Group. He's accumulated over 30 awards from the Associated Collegiate Press, Society of Professional Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists and founded award winning student-magazine Pipers In-Depth at Hamline University (St. Paul, Minnesota). He was once the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Oracle. Follow him on Twitter: @Gin026

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