FROM DEGRASSI TO DESIGNER…

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Actress and Entrepreneur Shenae Grimes-Beech Talks About Her Passion for Fashion.

By Rachel Sokol
Photos by Elias Tahan

Many teen-oriented TV comedies and dramas later become cult classics; beloved by future generations and etched into the memories of adults craving TV nostalgia. Shenae Grimes-Beech knows this all-too-well. In her teen years, Beech, a Toronto native, starred in two very popular teenage dramas: ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ (where she played Darcy Edwards, a good girl turned bad, then “good” again) and ‘90210’, the spin-off of Beverly Hills, 90210, in which she portrayed a high school student and troublemaker outcast/engaged woman Annie Wilson.

While these characters ruled teenage TV just a few years ago, presently, Beech is a married 25-year-old, California-based entrepreneur, fashionista, and POPSUGAR Now entertainment correspondent.

After five seasons on 90210, Beech interned for Teen Vogue and took some time off from acting to launch a jewelry and apparel collection and open her own online and pop-up shop.

In early January, she spoke with Millennium about her interest in fashion and her days on scripted TV.

MM: What items will be new for 2015, and how does your shop, Two Halves—which sometimes has pop-up locations in Los Angeles— differ from other boutiques?

SGB: Just before Christmas we released five new jewelry designs that we are super excited to push this year. They represent the other half of our brand’s foundation and are as punk rock as they come! We’re also developing our first pair of denim jeans and are eager to introduce this staple for men and women this year.

MM: Would you ever open up a shop in New York City?

SGB: I love the insane pulse that New York has any time, on any day. As soon you get off the plane in New York, you feel like you’ve been swept into this gritty glamorous whirlwind that you will only escape once you get back on the plane. I’d love to sell our stuff in shops over there, but with so many amazing boutiques I would wait a long time before opening a shop in New York. We first want our brand to grow organically so it has two sturdy feet to stand on, and stand out in the crowd!

MM: I have a question for both you and your husband, musician Josh Beech. What’s it like working together as co-entrepreneurs, and how do you inspire each other creatively? Also, how did the idea for a clothing shop come about?

SGB: Josh is currently in rehearsals for his gig this Thursday so I’ll answer this one solo. Working together, quite simply put, is the best. Every day together is a journey towards common goals that thrive on a shared passion for creativity, our love for each other, and all the laughter and lessons learned along the way—this is what we focus our lives on. Right now, that mutual passion has taken the form of clothing and accessories and ultimately a great excuse to spend nearly 24/7 together. Josh and I have both worked in fashion and entertainment for a long time, and to finally be able to express what has inspired us along the way through something tangible—and has infinite potential—is exhilarating.

MM: What career advice do you have for aspiring fashion or jewelry designers?

SGB: Keep doing, for as long as you can afford to just keep doing. We are still brand new and still very much aspiring ourselves, and every day we have to get creative on how to keep things moving forward. But as long as we keep doing, we won’t fall behind. When you’re confident in what you’re creating and you love the process too much for it not to work, things have a way of coming together. The universe is listening, so show them what you’re made of!

MM: You started your professional career as a teen actress. Do you miss working on a TV series or do you prefer working in business?

SGB: My life has kind of “happened to me” in a lot of ways. I said at 13 that I wanted to be a famous actress living in Los Angeles and every day, I knew that I was going to make that happen one way or another. Again, I guess the universe was listening because sure enough, it happened to a certain extent—I got to check that off my list and that’s not to say that I’ll never go back to acting. However, acting stopped fulfilling me and I have a fairly long list of other things I’m eager to check off so I needed to get to it while I had enough time! I’m business-minded and creative, so I’d like to continue to gain experience in different fields where I can put both of those things to use until something sticks. Experience has been my version of college and I prefer to learn hands-on and on my own terms. I may be 25 now, but I’ve embraced that I’ll never be too old to continue learning and trying new things… that’s what life is all about.

MM: What is the best career advice you’ve ever received; and do you have a favorite inspirational quote or mantra?

SGB: My mom always said and still has to remind me sometimes: Be proactive, as long as you keep doing, good things will come. It’s only when you wallow and let yourself stay stagnant in that place that you stop moving closer to opportunities you don’t yet know exist. It’s proven true to me time and time again. Luck is real, but it doesn’t just come knocking on your door, you have to keep moving for it to strike you.

MM: Do you own any item of clothing that is extremely sentimental, something from childhood or a parent?

SGB: A few years ago, once I’d really come into my own with my personal style, my mom looked at what I was wearing and said she had some old stuff I might like and whipped out this amazing floor-length black velvet jacket with shoulder pads and a ruffled lapel and a floor-length lace dress that even my petite frame could just squeeze into. She also gave me a handful of incredibly badass belts and I’m still trying to steal her old shoes that she’s hanging on to. My mom’s the best person on the planet and I admire her so much. To have pieces from her wardrobe that she rocked when she was my age makes my heart flutter! Nevermind my pride in the fact that she was, like, a secret punk rock babe!

For more info about Shenae Beech and her online shop, visit: www.twohalvesblog.com


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