Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Let's Get Away. . .

As I sit here with a laundry list of things that need to be completed to make my September launch of the Wilbur plus-size dress collection a success, what really stands out in my mind is my need to distance myself for a moment from the day-to-day grind.  Don't get me wrong, I am still a fashion-obsessed designer that sleeps, eats, and speaks creativity.  But I could certainly use a break.  A week and a half ago, when my baby brother was here for Father's Day, he announced that he would like to spend his 40th birthday in Hawaii with the entire family.  I am definitely down for that!  But it's not until December and it just cannot come fast enough.  Lately, every magazine I pick up has a piece on the Pacific paradise.  Elle Decor has these great photos of Waikiki complete with places you must visit and Departures features the right kind of things to wear while acting like an "Aloha" native.  Coincidence?  Probably.  Or the universe is dropping me subtle hints that Hawaii is a locale that I need to revisit.  And fairly soon.  My mother took me during the summer of 1986 before I returned to college.  We went with my aunt and my cousin.  That was when I had hair and learned that a luau was the best kind of party comprised of unlimited Blue Hawaiian cocktails.  I've already put my time in at the plantation and so now it is Hawaii or bust.  For now, I bide my time.  Patiently, I suppose.
On Monday, I met with one of my fit models, DeeDee, and my seamstress, Victoria, for our first fitting.  I can no longer squirm out of my commitment to this new venture because it is really underway.  And I keep on getting a positive return of energy.  DeeDee was a doll.  And the site of the dresses on her made me smile as they have begun to take shape.  It really doesn't matter if I am dressing a woman who is a size 4 or a size 14 or a 24.  There is a giddiness that takes over my soul when I see something I dreamed up come to life.  I am sure it's like that for every designer, but since this is my blog I am going to act like it's all about me.  Too focused on the matter-at-hand, I forgot to snap photos of the experience.  But when these dresses are complete, I promise to share the raw footage.  DeeDee so believed in my talents that she saw fit to make an introduction to a business associate.  While I wait for a response from this connection, I am reminded of my sister's words last week.  This is going to be a success.  Just wait and see!

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lean On Me

As I recovered from the excitement of Full-Figured Fashion Week which ended on Sunday, I had to reacclimate myself with my work groove.  And then I began to hit panic mode.  I awakened to the reality that time is quickly flying by and we still have not yet secured a corporate sponsor whose generous donation will fund our September launch.  I have survived panic mode in the past - BARELY.  It's really not attractive because it usually leads to desperation.  And desperation is the ultimate fashion faux pas of which I have been guilty of on more than one occasion.  I thought it prudent to seek the counsel of  a couple of acquaintances who are industry movers & shakers to see if they could possibly direct me to potential resources who might be able to assist with my company's financial shortage.  Yet, after sending them beseeching online messages, all I've gotten in return is the sound of crickets.  You know, when all you get is silence - save for the crickets whose melody informs you that your voice may have fallen on deaf ears.  It's just a little observation I picked up from my early days of watching Daffy Duck get no love on those Bugs Bunny cartoons.  Earlier this week I expressed my concern to my sister, Ashanti who is the company's Communications Director.  She confided that she'd also worried about our window of opportunity slowly shutting.  And today when we received news from one of our prospective corporate partners that their plans, which do not include Sorta Kinda Enterprises, are already pretty much set for the rest of the year, it was somewhat of a let down.  My sister, who is my partner, friend, and confidant then said something that silenced the voice of panic that had been rising up inside my head.  To paraphrase, she told me that we are going to be a success with this line of tailored dresses for the plus size woman.  The embrace from the plus size community supports it.  So success is already a given.  Our timeline may have to be adjusted, but we are going to move forward as best we can with the resources that are available to us so that we are prepared when the time comes.  I am not sure where my baby sister came from with all that knowledge, but she reminded me to continue to believe in the dream so that we can make it a reality.  There is surely power in words.  And Ashanti has spoken.

Peace & Fashion!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Take Me Home

So this Wednesday past was the opening night of Full Figured Fashion Week.  And if you've been keeping up, you have read about my exploits prepping for the BIG event.  It was my civic duty and design responsibility to make sure my sister/Communications Director, Ashanti, was representin' so I had my seamstress, Victoria, create a one-off look from the collection which will debut in September.  And I was very pleased with the dress.  To be perfectly honest, Ashanti was FLAWLESS.  But flawless can only be achieved with serious preparation, so I staged a "run-through" the previous Saturday at the house to make sure everything met my standards including earrings, shoes, mani-pedi, and handbag.  It turned out that the Kente Handbag I created was a huge hit with many of the attendees.  So when Ashanti met me Wednesday evening at the fab club BLVD on Bowery here in NYC, I knew she would be magazine ready.  The great thing is that so many of the women in attendance were magazine ready.  It was a moment that just soothed my fashion sensibilities and made my heart sing.  One of the first ladies I met while waiting behind the velvet rope was Ms. Christina Lewis who writes a blog called Musings of a Fatshionista.  What caught my eye with Chrisitna was the band of brilliant plumes that encircled her neck.  It was a moment that brought to mind a festooned Lisa Fischer - the fabulous R-n-B diva who wore a feathered confection when she picked up her Grammy in 1991.  At this point, I knew that these curvy girls were about to show me what FIERCE style should really look like.  After Christina and I talked for a moment she pulled out her camera and snapped photos of both Ashanti and me.  It made me feel like I might start showing up on someone's fashion radar and that was so validating.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Don't Fit Into Your Box

It's business as usual as I plug on with my plan for fashion world domination.  With love and respect to all the big girls, my focus is to elegantly demonstrate that beauty is not about a size.  Because I have seen ugly in a size 2.  But I've also seen it all the way up to a 22.  Really.  Wilbur is more about tapping into the sexier, more confident, more fabulous side of the size 14 or higher set.  Since I've been casting for the photo shoot and our big event in September, I've met a dozen or so models who do not fit into society's narrow definition of beauty.  And these women have been gorgeous on the inside and out.  I know I've heard people, especially women, on more than one occasion say, "Oh, she has such a pretty face. . ."  And I am just sitting there waiting for them to finish the sentence with ". . .but her body is a HOT mess."  I am not condemning anyone because I may have shared the same thought at times myself.  But it's time for us to change our perception.  The model industry has celebrated all kinds of quirky and gawky looking women and elevated their flaws to celebrity status.  Remember Lauren Hutton's famous gap-toothed smile or the odd looking Penelope Tree.  Why haven't they pushed for a beauty who is the same size as the average woman?  Sure there is Emme, but how about all the other curvy cuties who exist?  And it seems like the extremely thin ones are being manufactured conveyor belt style at some plant on Venus.

My sister recently gave me a book to read called Such A Pretty Fat. It's a hilarious look at a big girl's battle with the bulge.  In the end, the heroine doesn't downsize to skinny girl status, ala Jennifer Hudson, but she becomes a healthier, more fit big girl.  Although the focus is dieting, anyone who has ever struggled to reach a goal can identify with the story.  And I think it just challenges us to see the humanity in everybody.  And that's something I can get behind.  My sister, Ashanti, had the opportunity to meet the author, Jen Lancaster, when she was in New York promoting her latest published tale and she told me that she is just as animated and entertaining in person.  Someone who is talented and has the ability to make me laugh who is also quite pretty sounds like the complete package to me.  So now, Jen Lancaster has become my girl crush.

I've gotta go, but I will be back soon.  And if you pick up Jen Lancaster's book, holla back and let me know what you think.  I guarantee it will have you in stitches.

Peace & Fashion!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fashion Persists

On Memorial Day, I paid my respects to the Motherland by taking a short trip to the African Street Festival - the annual celebration of African culture held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). My best friend, Donelle, invited me to join her and her daughter (my goddaughter), Anaya, and our friend, Lisa, for the festivities. My sister, who is a Brooklyn resident, also joined us. I hadn't been in so many years. I think the last time was when I had my own Brooklyn address on Washington Avenue. So I was really happy to be hanging with the ladies as we browsed rows and rows of booths filled with African garb, jewelry, art, and other sundries. I was inspired by the beauty and majesty of all the richly colored fabrics and vibrant baubles and plucked a number of business cards from a few vendors. These wares will be added to the mix of accessories for the collection I am currently working on. There were the typical food vendors as well who sold fresh fruit, corn on the cob, cakes and pies, the ubiquitous funnel cake, and freshly squeezed fruit juices. And although the sun was merciless as it beamed down on us, everyone was pleasant and cordial. In fact, there was a real sense of community as we greeted vendors with a friendly hello and passersby with a smile. It would be nice to spread that feeling all over New York everyday. But then, I guess, it wouldn't be New York.
Today is my niece Samarra's 6th birthday. And you may ask why I am mentioning it in the context of ". . .Odyssey." Truth be told, she probably has little to do with my journey. But Samarra is such a little fashionista who appreciates the feminine side of dressing preferring to wear frilly dresses and cute shoes. And, of course, I encourage it because you can never have too much fashion in your life. Even when you are 6 years old. And when you see that kind of fastidious attention to style at an early age, you know there is an icon in the making. Happy Birthday, Samarra! May you continue to wave your fashion flag.
Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Fitting

I love creating fashion for women. Whether she's a size 2 or 22, every woman wants to feel beautiful. And I delight in the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I am the one responsible for helping her feel that way. This past Tuesday, Ashanti, my Communications Director who also happens to be my sister who just happens to be a curvy cutie had her final fitting for the dress she will be wearing to the opening runway event of Full-Figured Fashion Week on June 16. I persuaded her to pose before removing the dress for its final edits. My seamstress, Victoria, will be completing it and dropping it off to me this Friday. It may be a little difficult to discern, but it is made out of cotton shirting fabric that has a little stretch in it. The rich color is a cross between rust and burgundy with gold stripes woven throughout. It wasn't an obvious choice of color, but one that is complimentary to Ashanti's warm brown complexion.
By now, you know that I am making moves and trying to create a name for myself in the plus-size industry. It's almost non-stop networking and introductions. And I am always down for meeting new people, especially those who are friendly and living their lives with purpose. I think I am most excited about the possibilities that this new adventure can bring. Fresh ideas and different personalities will challenge me and help me to grow as an artist. I am already encouraged by the number of people who have been receptive to my design direction. Truth be told, obstacles were always hindering my progress when I created collections for the under size 14 market. I was not being embraced by retailers, stylists, or celebrities. I felt like I was running in place. My decision to switch gears did not come lightly. But I think it was the right decision for me. The spark is back and maybe now I will make some money, too. I only have 1 year to prove myself and make it happen. And this time, I think it will.
Peace & Fashion!