Last minute travel looks with a purpose

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  • Published on December 22, 2023
  • In Gift Guides

Former NFL cheerleader Shaunté Usual's atheisure line gets into the holiday spirit.

Although Christmas is days away, there’s a holiday classic the DETOUR team is adding to its playlist—but this version by Shaunté Usual is served up with a twist. The NFL cheerleader-turned-fashion designer has released a cover of Nat King Cole’s timeless tune, “The Christmas Song,” just in time for family and friend gatherings this weekend.

To help usher in holiday cheer, Usual released a cover of Donny Hathaway’s Christmas classic, “This Christmas.” (Credit: Shaunté Usual)

In addition to her music, which is available on all streaming platforms, the former Washington Commanders cheerleader made another debut this year when she premiered her clothing line Lausu during New York Fashion Week. While both her music and fashions have launched in 2023, Usual’s career off the sidelines has been a long time coming. 

“I cheered for five seasons,” says Usual about her start as a professional dancer in the Washington, D.C. metro area. “I was the youngest of the rookies. But I had an additional talent of singing so I became a part of The Variety Show, that’s the tour team. I was able to travel the world for the USO and DOD and that led to opportunities.” 

Shaunté Usual was a cheerleader for the Washington Commanders for five seasons, an opportunity that allowed her to perform in over 25 countries. Usual has since pivoted to music and fashion design, proving herself to be a triple threat. (Credit: Shaunté Usual)

The Maryland native adapted quickly to the fast pace of global performances and touring, as well as “boost the morale for the military” by interacting with so many different people and looking the part. All these elements became the foundation of seeing herself as a designer, but it would take the pandemic and prayer to move her forward. 

“During Covid, everybody had time to just sit. I had this one idea that hadn’t even launched yet,” she recalls from her now home in Los Angeles. “A friend and I, my prayer sister in Atlanta, we would talk on the phone every day. I said, ‘We should do vision boards.’ So I started setting up, cutting up magazines. I would take these index cards and write out things. I put lifestyle brand. I put merch. I put everything that was just coming up, and little by little I’d work on it.”

Usual began sourcing fabrics and materials in the fashion district in Los Angeles. “I started playing with embroidery, understanding it… thread, just materials, touching different things. It became a thing, until it dropped in my spirit,” she says. “God was like… ‘You need to do this.’”

The direction towards fashion didn’t entirely come from the sky (no offense to the universe). “I had two parents who were really into style and my own background with styling my own self. I’ve styled Jennifer Lopez’s dancers. I’ve styled other executives for red carpet events. I had experience in doing pulls. I pulled for my own video shoots and my own photo shoots. I would style 14 looks. I knew I had the gift, or a talent, because people would say, ‘Oh, I like what you did,’” says Usual. 

Shaunté Usual (left) with Buy From a Black Woman founder Nikki Porcher (middle), and Flex-n-Fly founder Youmie Jean Francois (right) at an event hosted by Buy From a Black Woman. Usual’s brand, Lausu, is featured in Flex-n-Fly’s holiday gift guide. (Credit: Shaunté Usual)

Sure of herself, Usual stepped out on faith and made a call to the head of the NFL Cheerleading Alumni Organization. She pitched the mocks she created. They give her the greenlight and her lifestyle clothing brand Lausu – her last name spelled backwards – began. Her first designs, ringspun combed cotton hoodies with rhinestone encrusted strings and leggings, were available for the national cheerleading alumni of all the NFL league teams. 

Just as 2023 was beginning, the singer had begun ideating the next phase of Lausu when tragedy struck. In March, her sister passed away unexpectedly and Usual became the caregiver for her niece and nephew, who were young adults. As they all adjusted to their new lives in southern California, grief enveloped Usual and her creativity stopped. A dear friend, Fred Martin, called to check in. He casually mentioned that some kids from his organization, Compton’s Kidz Club & Modeling Agency, were participating in a fashion show he was organizing for New York Fashion Week.

“Fred’s telling me, ‘Yeah, Russell Westbrook’s brand, Honor The Gift is going to be a part of it. And Jacob Meir from For the Stars Fashion House will be there… and I was like, ‘What about Lausu?’” Within weeks, Usual tapped back into her faith and found the strength to finalize three new looks for her ready-to-wear collection.

One of her signature outfits has been selected in the Flex-n-Fly holiday gift guide – a touching reminder of what’s ahead for the budding designer. 

The Lausu Onyx hoodie is featured in Flex-n-Fly’s 2023 holiday gift guide. Lausu made its debut at New York Fashion Week earlier this year. (Credit: Shaunté Usual)

“Now I’m working on the spring collection, which I’m really excited about. My sister’s favorite color was neon pink and that’s one of the colors I’m using for the line,” says Usual, pausing with a smile. “I just didn’t know it was going to take this route.” 

With her sister’s blessing and friends supporting, clearly Usual’s heading in the right direction.

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