Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good Bye, 2011!


Wilbur and his goddaughter
at Rockefeller Center 2011

2011 was quite an eventful year.  It began with me wondering whether or not I wanted to continue pursuing a career in fashion design.  My greatest love seemed to be turning her back on me.   It was one of the darkest periods of my life.  Trying to let go of my one true love proved to be a heartwrenching ordeal.  And because fashion is like the air I breathe, I felt like I was gasping to catch my breath.  But I was only swallowing more disappointment.

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and had to have surgery, I asked God for mercy and healing.  And I asked Him to change the dynamic of my relationship with fashion.  I was convinced it was not time for my mother to make her way to heaven; He already had the company of my maternal grandmother and my father and a host of other family members who succumbed to cancer.  And I wanted to believe that fashion and I still belonged together, too.  My mother recovered from the surgery.  She has a scar down the center of her chest.  But she is alive and she is cancer free.

Wilbur & his goddaughter on Christmas Day 2011
I decided to step out on faith and press forward in the name of fashion.  That is when I began to see glimmers of hope.  Finally.  I was featured in an issue of JET magazine.  And that led to many plus size women around the country reaching out to me.  Fashion was starting to show me love.  Then I was cast for a new reality show that will be airing on Lifetime called 24 Hour Catwalk.  And then I showed my Spring 2012 collection during NY Fashion Week which received positive reviews in the trade publication Women's Wear Daily and on bluefly.com.  In an effort to capitalize on all the great PR, my business partners and I set up a Pop-UP Shop on our website www.skwilbur.com to pre-sell our Spring 2012 line.

Things seem to be turning around and I can see the light of day.  But it is only through perseverance that I am able to see how resilient I truly am.  And that resilience is my birthright.  I get it honest from my mother.

Here is to health, happiness, and prosperity in 2012!

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Yuletide Blahs

Okay, so I was going to upload photos of some of New York City's most fabulous Christmas windows.  Festive, right?  Then I spotted The NY Times coverage of holiday windows.  I had been scooped!  So that idea bit the dust.  Then I wondered what I would put in this space.  I grappled with different ideas, but the truth of the matter is that for the past couple of days I've been plagued with the Yuletide Blahs.  With my pockets quite empty and my phone number on heavy rotation among bill collectors, the spirit of Christmas was passing me over and the Grinch's spirit was hovering like a dark cloud.  When I groaned to my zipper guy, Rory, the owner of  Archer Zippers, he revealed that he is going through a financially challenging moment, too.  "Wilbur, we're all going through it," he bellowed from behind his desk surrounded by heaps and mounds of #5 metal teeth zippers.  This revelation was only mildly comforting.  But then as I began to go through my daily grind, I started to adjust my perspective.  And it helped, too, that when I tweeted my beleaguered gift-buying status, I received an outpouring of empathy from followers and friends who have found themselves in similar situations.

So that gold bracelet I was eyeing for my honey and those diamond earrings I'd love to purchase for my mother are going to have to wait until my salad days are over.  As my pastor says, "This is only a temporary situation."  So I have bid adieu to my Yuletide Blahs and I am embracing the JOY of the season.  It's just not worth the stress.  Besides, 2012 is going to be a monetarily rewarding year.  I can just feel it!

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reality Show Update!

Yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, Alissa Wilson of Stylish Curves, tagged me in a post on Twitter.  Of course I had to check out what my curvy friend was saying because it's not every day that I receive Twitter love.  To my surprise, she had spotted the new teaser for the reality show I taped this past summer.

The Judges & Host
of
24 HOUR CATWALK
24 Hour Catwalk is set to start airing next month on Lifetime on January 10, 2012 at 10 p.m.  Get ready to park yourselves in front of the television or set your DVRs because I don't want you to miss any of the fashion drama unfold.  And I want to get lots of feedback.  It's going to be INSANE!

Just in case you are not on Facebook or don't follow me on Twitter, click on the link below to get a sneak peek at my reality show debut.  Enjoy!


Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

'Tis the Season

I have had my butt in the streets after work every night this week.  Maybe I am making up for my grueling, vacation-less summer.  But I am just going to blame it on the holidays and enjoy it while I can.

Playwright & Poet VINCENT TORO
On this Monday past,  I was invited by my longtime friend, Grisel, to a reading of her husband's play at Repertorio Espanol.  21, by Vincent Toro, is a slice of modern American life from the Puerto Rican perspective.  It tells the story of Blackjack, a very earnest recent college graduate who feels alienated by his colorful family so he makes plans to  accept a journalism job in Turkey.  This four character play is well crafted and well developed sprinkled with plenty of laughs and some poignant moments as well.  Vincent, whose play is one of seven chosen for the Metlife Nuestras Voces Playwriting competition, writes in a clear voice.  While 21 has a definitive Hispanic point of view, its themes of family, career, and forgiveness speak to all of us no matter our ethnicity.  Be on the lookout for Vincent's rising star.


Marc Morial
head of the Nat'l Urban League
Michelle Miller
CBS News Correspondent
Jacque Reid
Last night, I was invited by my very dear friend, Sheila Rule, to join her for a reception hosted by her friends Michelle Miller, the CBS News correspondent, and her husband Marc Morial, president of The National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans.  Held at new haute spot, Gravy, it soon became packed with a long list of New York City's Black Glitterati.  The liquor flowed and scrumptious treats were passed around all night long.  When I came face-to-face with Jacque Reid at the bar, I pointed and yelled, "Are you Jacque?!"  I mostly remember her as the lead anchor on BET Nightly News, but she has been suggested as someone I should friend on Facebook as well.  Since I did not know her personally, I never did.  This was my chance to make an impression.  And I guess I did because we laughed raucously over my approach.  I guess now we really can start up a virtual friendship.

After two late nights in the city, I am happy to be home early watching a little mindless television.  But I've got more celebrating to do before 2012 comes roaring in.  'Tis the season.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Date With Style

For me, the cogs of the fashion wheel are always turning. It's not long after I present one collection that I am working on the next. For budgeting reasons, it just makes more financial sense for my partners and I to do it that way. My collection for Fall 2012 called EYE CANDY has already been conceptualized and sketched. I will begin the intense process of having the samples produced in the next week or so. We've already set the date to photograph the collection - March 31. And I have already begun casting. In order to really refine our image and have a definitive point of view, we've decided to bring accessible luxury to the curvy woman via our website www.skwilbur.com. Coming September 2012, our website will have a brand new look and feel. I'm SO thrilled with the changes that Ashanti, Serosh and I have decided on and I am sure my curvy coterie of lovelies will be, too. So please be patient with us and stay tuned.


The DYNAMIC & EFFERVESCENT Sarah Conley
On this Saturday past, I met with the dynamic and effervescent Sarah Conley, founder and writer of the blog StyleIT. It has always been important to me to feature a couple of full-figured women in our photo campaigns who are NOT models, but just fabulous & stylish in their own right. Sarah just seems like the perfect choice. (The other non-model is my eternally stylish mother - now a seasoned veteran in the SK WiLBUR cavalcade of photographed beauties.)


Over brunch at Le Pain Quotidian near Union Square, we discussed design, inspiration, and concepts. She was pleased with the care and detail I put into her design and we're both psyched to start the fitting process in the coming weeks.

After brunch, we decided to do a little window shopping. Fish's Eddy was a tight maze of breakable dishes that left me feeling confined and claustrophobic. I couldn't wait to get out of there! At Gap Kids, they were all out of the sparkly gold bubble skirt I'd like to buy for my niece. Shucks! We were nearly mobbed by the eager salespeople at Sephora who instantly recognized Sarah from her blog. With that kind of reception, I half expected the paparazzi to jump from behind the nail polish display with cameras at the ready.  Afterwards, we headed over to the Ted Gibson Salon where Sassy Sarah had an appointment with her "hair strategist", Eric, and Greg, her colorist. Everyone was lovely and it brought back memories of my long gone days as a hairstylist. After awhile, though, I was ready to head home to peacefulness and Christmas movies on Lifetime, so I gave Sarah B. a kiss and hit the streets making my way to Penn Station to catch my train.


I'll keep you posted on the progress of her dress. Less than a year from now, you'll be able to buy your very own version, too. So keep up. The wheels of fashion are constantly spinning.


Peace & Fashion!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The 4-1-1 On Lysistrata Jones

This Friday past I had the pleasure of seeing the new Broadway musical Lysistrata Jones.  Based on the Aristophanes-penned comedy "Lysistrata" first performed in 411 B.C., it is a modern and very contemporary retelling of how a group of young women, led by Lysistrata, decide to withhold sexual favors from their men in an effort to end the Peloponnesian war.  But in this version, there are cheerleaders, a losing basketball team, and a very funny joke about Herman Cain - the beleauguered GOP presidential hopeful.  Of course, in musical comedy land, nothing ever goes according to plan.  And that is where the fun and the fabulosity begin.

LaQuet Sharnell is SANGIN'!
Comprised mostly of Broadway newbies, the talented cast brings their A-game as they sing and dance with such fervor and freshness the audience has no chance but to root for happy endings for all the show's characters.  I was especially blown away by LaQuet Sharnell who plays Myrrhine and sings the showstopping "Don't Judge A Book" in the second act.  Also of note is the handsome Josh Segarra who brings the heat as Mick.  Initially, he is just the typical dumb jock, but the audience learns that there is a lot more there.  And when he sings the heartbreakingly sweet "When She Smiles" with such affection, you can feel the audience swoon.  And then there is the infectious energy of Jason Tam who portrays Xander.  He is such a cutie & serious eye candy.


Jason Tam - the talented HOTTIE

The show is cleverly written  by Douglas Carter Beane who is also responsible for one of my most favorite Broadway shows "The Little Dog Laughed".  He is accompanied by his real life partner Lewis Flinn who did the music and lyrics.  Together they have delivered a show that makes you laugh.  And you're still singing hours after leaving the theatre.

If you're like me and need a worthwhile diversion from work and the holiday season crush, you should race to get tickets.  It was a packed house the night I went.  I'm just saying. . .

Now it's time for me to get back to fashion.  But I can still see Jason Tam dancing in my head. . .

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Make Up 2 Break Up


Tara Taylor sports a natural makeup look by Tara Taylor

This afternoon I lunched with Tara Taylor, a make up artist whose talent is beyond compare.  Even her name has a superstar ring to it, doesn't it?  I met Tara over a year ago after my business partners and I first launched the full-figured collection.  I first noticed her work in countless spreads for Plus Model Magazine -an online publication that addresses plus size fashion, beauty, arts, and modeling.  And I made it my mission to seek her out and beg her to work with me.  It turns out that Tara is as sweet as she is talented and I didn't need to do much begging after all.  Although I have several months before the photo shoot for the Fall 2012 collection, I wanted to make sure that I got on the calendar of this very in-demand talent before she was booked.  So today over Cobb salad and devil's food cheesecake, courtesy of Junior's restaurant, I shared my vision for the upcoming collection "Eye Candy".  She seemed to be taken with my ideas and immediately inserted the shoot on her phone's calendar.  I cannot wait.  But in the meantime, check out her work at www.tarataylor.net.  If you're a woman who wants to put her best face forward, you want to take advantage of her talent before she becomes the next Kevyn Aucoin!

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Which Way Do I Turn?

Anna D. wears SK WiLBUR
available at skwilbur.com
Everybody is feeling the funk as a result of this challenging economy, including yours truly!  My business partners, Ashanti and Serosh, and I thought that if we built it, the curvy women would come, with credit cards in hand, in droves.  I mean, that is what they told us after the JET magazine article ran.  But it has only been a mediocre response, at best, with only a sprinkling of full-figured women expressing interest.

Each season I do my best to really capture the trends while creating looks that will  compliment a fuller woman's body.  I visit high end stores to research what is being sold, not just in plus size departments, but in contemporary and designer departments, too.  But for my Spring 2012 collection Out of the Dark, I made an extra effort to use design elements that would appeal to a curvy woman's aesthetic while camouflaging the "problem" areas.  The buyers at the major department stores told me that marketing to the curvy customer is challenging.  They weren't kidding!  Now, as an e-tailer, I am seeing it firsthand for myself.

But something's got to give.  Moving forward, my team and I are looking for ways to refine our image and carve out a niche for ourselves in the marketplace.  I don't think the idea is to slash prices as much as it is to continue to offer BOLD, MODERN, and CLASSIC fashion with value.  Stay tuned as we begin to implement subtle changes.  And if you know of any curvy woman in need of a fabulous dress, please direct her to www.skwilbur.com.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

All Hail The Queen!

Yesterday, after I finished my work at the plantation, I did what I always do and headed to the Garment District to work on my forthcoming collection.  I have dubbed Fall 2012 - EYE CANDY.  It's all decadence and luxuriousness and fabulosity, of course.  I was walking down 38th street on my way to Mood Fabrics when I crossed paths with none other than the Queen herself - Queen Latifah.  I am an avid fan of the Queen since her early days as a rapper.  Before she was transformed into a glamorous Cover Girl makeup spokeswoman, she was making moves in the male-dominated rap music world.  Do you remember her 1989 hit song, Ladies First?  It was an empowering anthem dedicated to women all over the globe.

Years ago, I met Latifah when I was an intern at Cynthia Rowley.  She was gracious and witty and signed my copy of MODE magazine where she was featured in an editorial fashion spread.  It was definitely a thrill.  So you know, I had to acknowledge the Queen as we passed each other on the street.  "Hey Queen!" I shouted barely able to contain my excitement.  She nodded and waved as she made her way to 7th avenue.  And we both kept it moving.

One of my dreams is to one day dress the Queen.  Because, let's face it, when you get that kind of endorsement from royalty, you have certainly arrived.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's Hapenning?!

So it's been awhile.  I've been busy.  And now I am trying to play catch up.

Gabourey Sidibe at the
premiere of
TOWER HEIST
I've been trying to dress Oscar nominee, Gabourey Sidibe, since she first stepped in the limelight for her portrayal of the title character in the film Precious. Two Thursdays ago, in the afternoon, I got a voice message from her Los Angeles based stylist.  She requested a dress for Gabourey's red carpet appearance for the premiere of her latest movie Tower Heist.  The only problem was that she needed the dress for the following Monday.  That only gave me 3 full days!  Unfortunately, I had nothing in my arsenal of fabulous dresses that was suitable for the curvy star.  DARN!  I was disappointed about missing out on this big break, but only very briefly.  Because now I know I am, at least, on her glam squad's radar.  Another opportunity will most certainly present itself - I'm sure of it!  I think she could use a little SK WiLBUR in her life, don't you?


This Monday past, on my birthday, my business partners and I launched the online POP-Up Shop at http://www.skwilbur.com/.  You are now able to purchase some of your favorite looks from the runway and they will be delivered to you in time for your spring fling.  As an added bonus, we are extending a 10% courtesy off each shopper's entire order.  AND you can buy some of your favorite handbags from the runway, too!  Sounds like a curvy girl's dream to me.  I'm just sayin'!

In the meantime, I've been clawing and scratching to build retail distribution online through established retailers like Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom.  That's never a picnic, but I am up for the challenge.  In addition, I am busy working on the next collection for Fall 2012.  I've already completed the sketches and now it's time to turn the sketches into actual garments.  Whewww!  My journey continues. . .  And that's what's happening with me.

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Blogging for my Life

Nicole Z. during the fitting with George
The past three months have been beyond hectic and jam-packed with fashion related activity.  Finally, I realized that I just didn't have the time to dedicate to blogging.  But I am back now and ready to share some of my adventures with you.  I listened with envy as many of my friends shared their stories about summer vacations while I was busy with my nose to the grindstone.  But I'm not mad because all my work seems to finally be paying off.

If you've been keeping track of me, you know that I reached a career high when I was featured in the August 8/15 issue of JET magazine.  It prompted fashionable women across America to reach out to me on facebook, twitter, and through e-mail to find out how they could get their hands on SK WiLBUR dresses.  It was a validating moment and I still find myself basking in the afterglow.  My business partners and I are looking to use the new demand for my aesthetic as leverage when we approach stores in the coming months.  I am now very excited about what the future holds for Sorta Kinda Enterprises.
Nicole Z. wears the finished look for the show

The fashion reality show that I shot over the summer has already started getting some mentions in the press.  Although I am still bound by reality show secrecy, I want you to be on the lookout for a new show that will be airing on Lifetime in the near future.  Stay tuned because you will definitely find me on one of those episodes.

As NY Fashion Week was drawing nearer, I was preparing for my first plus size runway show on September 13.  Although I had a deficit of $5000 to contend with, I was confident that the universe was supporting my efforts.  After all, I had just gotten national press and taped a reality show.  While I continued fittings with my seamstresses and tailors, I remained faithful that the money would come through.  Foregoing paying my personal bills, I poured every dime I had into the completion of my collection.  It was not only important, but necessary, for me to continue the momentum that began with the JET article.  I implemented an initiative to raise the money through kickstarter.com.  With kickstarter, you must raise the full amount to get the money.  If you don't, you get nothing.  Since I only received pledges from 5 people totaling $335, it was an idea that crashed and burned.  My diva friend, Josette Robinbson, who is in public relations, my boyfriend, one of my dear friends whom I met  a few years ago during my commute into Manhattan, and my great Aunt Edie all made donations to my cause.  But I was still short.  In the eleventh hour, the day before the show, it was my sister and business partner who was able secure the last $4000 through a personal loan.  My faithfulness paid off.  I still get choked up about it.

Edward Wilkerson & me during FNO

Days before my big runway show, Josette convinced me to come out for Fashion's Night Out.  I didn't want to do it because I still had plenty of work to do.  I had decided to gift the guests of my runway presentation with mini SK WiLBUR tote bags.  I couldn't afford to order them, so I decided to make them.  What a daunting task!  But back to my story, for Fashion's Night Out, Josette and I met at Lord & Taylor where I introduced her to my friend from several years ago Edward Wilkerson, the designer of the fabulously chic and affordable line Lafayette 148.  It had been years since I'd seen him and he is just as funny and lovely as I remembered.  From there, Josette and I moved on to the BCBG store where we might have been too early for the party.  But then we separated and I headed off to Lane Bryant on Fulton Street in Brooklyn where I was surrounded by plus size lovelies and the cast of the reality show Big Sexy.  Although I was exhausted, it was important for me to make an appearance so the ladies knew that I still had nothing but love for them.  But by 9:00 p.m. I was on my train headed home.

I was super excited about the show.  Women's Wear Daily had already confirmed that they would be in attendance.  Afterwards, writer Marc Karimzadeh from the trade newspaper interviewed me.  It was all too surreal.  The next day, my friend Albert who lives in Paris sent me a note on facebook with a link to the article.  Yippee!  Another validating moment for my career.  NY Fashion Week is not just for the rail thin models anymore.  It's time for the curvy woman to be represented.   And I am doing my best to be one of the proponents of that.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whirlwind

I have been so busy, I can barely keep up with myself.  Last week, I shot a new reality show that will be airing soon on Lifetime.  Afterwards, I hit the ground running as I coordinated three fittings in as many days.  On Sunday, as the rain was pouring down monsoon-style, I was making my way to Jersey City, NJ to have one of my tailors, Mr. B, work his magic on two of my models.  What is normally a one hour and twenty-five minute trip from my home in Queens took me nearly four hours.  I was begging for Noah and his ark!  That trek wasn't much fun.  But in the name of fashion, I will cross rivers and climb mountains.  Now that is dedication!

I am still receiving notes from women all over the country who have seen the JET article who want to thank me, encourage me, and praise me.  I grin each time I read one of those comments.  My strength is renewed and I feel energized to work harder as I make moves to get my aesthetic out there for curvy women to purchase.  I choose to focus on that instead of worrying about where the money to finish paying for all my samples for the collection is going to come from.  I am connected to the universe which is providing for me.  Besides, all evidence points to this moment that I've been working towards for the last 13 years.

In the meantime, Ashanti and I have been contacting media to see if they will attend my runway show on September 13.  I am going to continue to do everything in my power to extend my whirlwind moment.  In the eye of this storm is where I feel I belong and I am lovin' it!


Peace & Fashion!

Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm Ready!

Yesterday I signed the confidentiality agreement for the reality show that I will be competing on.  That means I cannot talk or write about it.  But I will confess that I am a little nervous about it.  And I think that is healthy and to be expected.  I have decided to focus more on doing well and enjoying the experience instead of winning.  After seven years of auditioning for different reality shows, I am finally getting my big break.  So I already consider myself a winner.  But being crowned king of the competition would be nice, too.

The JET magazine article has brought me a lot of attention from my darker hued sisters around the country.  The number of people who "like" my company facebook page has increased by 125 in the last week.  I have received tons of accolades from several women who have thanked me for "caring about them."  Those comments made me smile, but brought tears to my eyes because they really validated my journey.  We have also received a dozen or more emails asking about the availability of the line and how to buy the dresses.  I've had to explain that retail has not caught up to me yet, but I believe that I can use this demand as leverage with store buyers.  Let the negotiations begin!

In the meantime, I am still running around pulling together all the elements for the runway show on September 13.  I am tired, but there is much work to do.  The moment I've been praying for for the last 13 years is finally here.  And I am so ready.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Dreams Are Now REALITY

It's late and I'm just finishing up on constructing my last bag for my handbag line.  It was an unbelievably busy day as I dashed from Wall Street to the Garment District for appointments and a fitting.  Wheeww!  Just thinking about it makes me exhausted.  I am about to go to bed so that I can be refreshed for the plantation early tomorrow morning, but I did want to share a couple of pieces of very exciting news.

First, the JET magazine issue that features a profile of yours truly has hit newsstands.  It's been very exciting as I have gotten thoughtful messages on facebook from curvy women all over the U.S. praising my designs and inquiring about how they can pick up one of my dresses.  It is unfortunate that I am not yet carried in any retail stores, but I think this overwhelming response may change the tide of NOs into a chorus of YESes from store buyers.  I remain optimistic.

My other piece of news is that on this Friday evening past, I received word that I was chosen for the as-yet-untitled reality show that will be airing on Lifetime!  I am SO excited.  And nervous.  I don't know what I will be required to do.  I don't know when it will air.  I don't even know where it will be taped, but shooting is to begin next week.  YAY!

I feel like my season of reward has finally come and I can barely contain myself.  Everybody loves a winner and I felt like a loser for so long.  It's really gratifying to see my trajectory turn around after thirteen years of struggles.  Thank you, GOD.

Peace & Fashion!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

More FASHION!

A necklace from Lee Angel
Preparing my collection for a show takes a lot more than just designing the looks.  It is of equal importance to hire skilled samplemakers who will flawlessly construct each design so that the translation from sketch to actual garment is seamless.  I must also cast the models who will bring just the right amount of sashay to my runway.  And then there are the extraneous details like shoes, makeup, hair, and jewelry.  A moment that lasts a little less than 10 minutes takes months and months of meticulous preparation.

Michelle Pfeiffer & Al Pacino in a scene from Scarface
This week I began to actively search out those extraneous details.  I landed at Lee Angel, the company known for its chic, yet affordable fashion jewelry.  Ms. Pema, my guide through the company's archives, showed me fabulous piece after fabulous piece of necklaces and bracelets.  I am so pleased and excited to have them as my jewelry sponsor.

Next, I was onto hair.  My inspiration for this season is Michelle Pfeiffer's character in the Brian DePalma film Scarface.  She was just so elegant and sexy and sophisticated.  A real foil to Al Pacino's crass drug lord.

I have also begun approaching several shoe companies about supplying the footwear for my models.  A few have turned me down.  I am not sure why as my approach has been extremely professional, highlighting the public relations benefit of being part of a NY Fashion Week runway show.  Undaunted, however, I continue with my quest.  A barefoot woman on my runway is SO unstylish.

I remain in the trenches as I battle it out to have the most polished catwalk possible.  As I get closer to my September 13 show date, I am sure that there will be more drama, more obstacles, and more fashion.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ending The Week With A BANG

Emily M.
Today I met with Emily M., a fabulous plus-sized model, who will be wearing one of the pieces for my runway show on September 13.  The dress needed to be tailored just a little more to accentuate her glorious curves.  Once my tailor, Carl, had pinned the dress in all the pertinent places, I could visualize Emily setting my runway on fire.  It's a shame that there are not many opportunities for curvy models to parade the catwalk.  Luckily, Emily has a career doing hair and makeup on television shows like Royal Pains on USA and The Good Wife on CBS.  The woman is multi-talented and I am very fortunate to have found an ally in her.

This afternoon I received a call from Matilda from the production company that is working on the as-yet-untitled reality show for the Lifetime network.  She left a message on my voicemail while I was at the plantation congratulating me on getting to the next step in the process to being chosen for the show.  YAY!  When I called Matilda back she was eager to conduct a telephone interview with me.  "Are you available at four o'clock today, Wilbur?" she asked in her proper British lilt.  "It will take about forty-five minutes," she advised.  "That would be great, Matilda," I answered.  At almost 4:15, Matilda and I were deep into my interrogation, I mean, interview.  I felt good afterwards when Matilda informed me that she would be sending an email with a release for my photographers to sign off the use of their images.  She also told me that the powers-that-be would be making their final decision soon, as the series is set to begin shooting on August 9.

As I get close to the end of this reality show process, I cannot help believing that my chances are really good and this time I will finally make the cut.  Persistence, I guess, really does pay off.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Short. . .


This evening my seamstress, Yvonne, and I met with curvy supermodel  Allie McGevna at Mood Fabrics.  The purpose: to take her measurements for the next batch of samples for the spring 2012 collection.  It was Allie's first visit to the mega fabric store made famous by Project Runway.  I, on the other hand, live in Mood.  As I greeted the owner and the employees, Yvonne remarked how familiar I am with the store's floor plan.  It really is high on my list of NYC go-to destinations for beautiful fabrics.

Taking measurements is always brief and the three of us were done in a snap.  Thank God.  This morning, I left the bag with my sample fabrics home in Southeast Queens and had to ride back home and then all the way back into Manhattan for my 6 p.m. meet-up with the ladies.  Between all the commuting and the oppressive heat, my energy was completely zapped.  But I can't complain.  Sometimes you've just gotta suffer for fashion.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trying to Keep My Cool

Although the mercury lingers above the 90 degree mark with no relief in sight, I press forward with arrangements to get my spring 2012 collection finished.  I am completely psyched about this collection because it shows how much I've matured as a designer.  I have a better understanding, I believe, of what retailers want for the curvy fashionista.  Last year when I launched my line for plus size women, I think it may have been a little too fashion forward for retailers.  Needless to say, I am hoping for better results this coming spring.

I have also been very busy putting the finishing touches on my inaugural handbag line.  It is too soon to tell whether or not it is going to be a hit.  But advance buzz is positive.  As soon as we have established accounts with reputable stores, I promise to share the news of where they may be purchased.

Great News!  I have learned that I will be featured in the August 15 issue of JET magazine.  Chronicling all things newsworthy in the Black community, the weekly periodical debuted in 1951.  It is truly an honor to be included on the pages of such an auspicious, culturally relevant publication.  As the date gets nearer, I will be reminding all of you to hurry to your local newsstand to buy your copy.

Peace & Fashion!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bingeing on Bling

Over this past weekend my mother was perusing the latest issue of Architectural Digest to come in the mail. That was when she came across a photo of a breathtaking piece of fine jewelry.  "You know how I love beads," she said between sips of coffee.  "Let me see?" I asked.  It was a stunning five-strand necklace comprised of 18K yellow gold beads by Marco Bicego.  "It's only $28,700 and it's only sold at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship," my mother explained with a nudge and a wink in her voice.

I love jewelry.  I am not sure if it is my mother's or my grandmother's influence, but it is safe to say that we are a bling loving family.  I promised to make a trip to the tony department store later on in the week to check out the trinket in person.

Yesterday I eased on down Fifth Avenue and found myself darkening the store's grand doors.  I met Richard, the friendly sales associate, behind the Marco Bicego display case who informed me that the piece was not on the premises.  "However, it will be here tomorrow and so will the designer," he promised.  It didn't take much to convince me to make a return visit.

One of the results of my mother's cancer surgery this past April is that she gets winded very easily.  Although I wanted her to join me, I understood why she was reluctant to make the trip into Manhattan from Southeast Queens.  I promised to try on "the piece" (as we now call it) and have someone photograph me wearing it.

When I reached the fine jewelry area today, I was met by Leslie Block, the company's national accounts merchandiser for the U.S.  Apparently, Richard had already informed her of my interest in the necklace.  She whisked me to a cozy, carpeted back room where I came face-to-face with "the piece".  It was as awesome as I had imagined.  And the only one of its kind.  Leslie indulged my request to be photographed wearing "the piece" to make an assessment on the necklace's length.  It felt very tight around my size 17 neck and I think it would be only slightly roomier around my mother's neck.  When Leslie introduced me to the designer himself, they both agreed that having another necklace constructed for just a little more money would not be an issue.  I love great service and I was being treated like a V.I.P.  You just cannot get that at H&M!

After chatting with Richard and sipping champagne, I had to get back to my real life just outside the doors about 30 feet away.  But I know if I ever make it big, my mother can expect to get that necklace just because I think it would look pretty around her cancer-free neck.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Shine On!

After taking a little Independence holiday break from blogging, I am back.  I feel something, some kind of excitement, percolating under my exterior.  There is nothing tangible happening. . . yet.  I am still waiting to hear from the two television reality shows that had expressed initial interest.  Being on either one of those shows would certainly provide me with great exposure.  In the meanwhile, I am working my butt off as my September 13 runway show date draws nearer.  I have started contacting models.  My seamstress, Angela, and I have begun fittings.  And I am in the throes of sewing more samples on my mother's old Singer for my soon-to-be-revealed handbag line.  I still wonder about my finances, or the lack thereof, and how I am going to pay for everything.  But my focus has shifted and I feel positive that things are going to work out in my favor.  Ashanti & I have also begun contacting a couple of brands about in-kind sponsorship for our runway show.  In other words, it is business as usual.  Only it's not, because this time I'm not going to let anything or anyone dull my shine.  So I suggest you put on your sunglasses.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chillaxin'

Bouquet Brooch circa 1937
 by Van Cleef & Arpels
Today, once my shift at the plantation was over, I found myself sitting inside the AT&T Device Support Center on 42nd street over an hour as Lauren assisted me.  After tinkering with my smart phone (it's not so smart after all), she announced that I was going to need a replacement.  This is my fourth replacement since I switched over to smart phone use in December.   Although it has been at no additional cost to me, I am still way over the inconvenience.  Afterwards, I rushed to the garment district where I proceeded to spend my paycheck on fabric for the collection.  Just caressing the yardage of silk shantung soothed me after my phone ordeal.

This week has been so jam-packed with fashion and its realities, I am really looking forward to just taking it easy this holiday.  But that doesn't mean boring!  I have plans to finally check out the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum before it closes on Independence Day.  And I am going to catch at least one blockbuster movie at my local multiplex - hopefully something in 3-D.  YAY!  Although I have not been invited to any barbecues, I'm looking to crash one or two.  So if you hear of any, just holla.

Whatever your plans - make it safe and fun!  Happy Fourth!

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Running The Reality Race

I can see the finish line!  This morning I received an email from the casting company assigned to the reality show I just auditioned for.  Apparently, the casting director "thought I was great and would like to move me forward to the next phase of the casting process."  YAY!  The next phase means a very invasive background check.  I liken it to a rectal exam.  Ewww!  So my very sad and bleak credit report will come under scrutiny like I am trying to buy a house.  And I am so not ready for that.  But I am ready to take my fashion game to the next level.  So if I must expose some of my credit indiscretions to get my clothing onto the racks of a major retailer, then I am down for it.

Today I had to meet with a professional.  Since Sunday, Ashanti has been trying in vain to transfer the video we shot Saturday evening onto a DVD.  Worried that my opportunity to get on All On The Line would soon go up in smoke, I contacted a videographer acquaintance who was able to burn 2 DVDs for me.  Wheww!  I then rushed to my nearest UPS store where I expedited the raw footage to the west coast based producer.  Disaster averted. . . hopefully.

The marathon continues.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reality Check

Joe Zee - host, ALL ON THE LINE 
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my stylist friend Steffany Allen about an awesome opportunity.  Joe Zee, the fashion personality and creative director of Elle magazine, tweeted that the producers of his reality show, All On The Line, were searching for the next batch of "veteran" fashion designers to participate on the show's upcoming season.  Only a month earlier, Ingrid, my co-worker at the plantation, mentioned All On The Line was something I should check out.  When two or more people make the same suggestion, I believe that the universe is speaking to me.  And I need to listen.

If chosen, I would present my collection to buyers of a reputable store and it would, in all likelihood, be picked up by that store.  With a wave of Joe Zee's magic wand, my line would be refreshed, relevant, and ready for retail.  Now with a distribution channel for my label, curvy women would finally have a way to purchase my designs.  That idea really appealed to me.  So I sent an email post haste.  Here is what I wrote:

 Good Evening,



My name is Wilbur. I am an emerging designer based in New York City. I've been working at it for 13 years and last year I launched a line of dresses for full-figured women size 14 to 20. But it has not been an easy road. And I am still trying to get into retail stores. I need Mr. Zee's help. I think he may have the answers to get me over the proverbial hump. Please check out my website at www.skwilbur.com and my company's facebook presence at www.facebook.com/sortakinda. I'm drowning in designer disappointment!

Peace & Fashion!

The response from the casting people was swift and immediate.  I received a questionnaire to fill out.  Once completed, I sent it back as quickly as I could.  I then received an email from one of the producers who wanted to have a phone conversation.  Long distance from the west coast we bonded.  He said he loved my story, but he needed me to shoot a casting video to present to the network.  "Can you get it to me by the beginning of next week?" he beseeched.  My heart sank.  I would be spending a relaxing weekend in Washington D.C. with my honey.  "That's impossible, but I can get it to you early the following week," I responded trying to disguise my disappointment.  Reluctantly, he allowed me a one week reprieve.

This weekend past, my business partners and I gathered at Ashanti's apartment and videotaped a conversation with Steffany and the founder of Full-Figured Fashion Week, Gwen DeVoe, as we touched on all the bullet points of my almost 13 year history in the fashion industry and why being on the show is important to me.  Unfortunately, we hit a snag trying to download the video, but it will be overnighted to California tomorrow.  Now I need to play the wait and see game.  But I am taking it all in stride.

Today I was called for another reality series.  I had originally met this group of casting people last year, so imagine my surprise when I got the call from Ashanti saying they wanted to see me again.  Apparently, it's for a show that will be airing on the Lifetime network.  I showed them a couple of my dresses and I was interviewed by the woman from casting who was off-camera.  Armed with only my sparkling personality, I tried to endear myself to the ladies assembled.  Again, I've gotta watch and see what happens.  But if the old adage is true, "When it rains, it pours", then I am deluged in reality.  And I don't mind getting a little wet.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag


Strong Enough For A Man, But Made For A Woman

I never really know where the wind is going to take me.  My business partners and I have revised our business plan on a number of occasions to reflect each new course we've taken.   As a small business owner, flexibility is essential.  My belief is when you're on a path that is not getting the results you want, it's time to change direction.   I've designed every kind of women's fashion you can imagine because I am looking for that place in the industry where I am most fulfilled both creatively and monetarily.

Last year when I launched my collection for plus size women, I decided to create my own handbags to accessorize my dresses.  I had no intention of ever selling the bags.  I was just trying to create a head-to-toe look that told the story of my imaginary muse who had traveled the world.  But I got such an overwhelming response from women asking about the bags that I've decided to pursue getting them into retail outlets.  They will, in all likelihood, sell for less than the dresses retailing at $95 to $250.  The styles have fun names like "Shop 'Til You Drop It Like It's Hot" and "Strong Enough For A Man, But Made For A Woman".  And I think they will appeal to women from age 18 to 80.  It's been gratifying sewing these bags myself.  I just hope that retailers far and wide will be taken with my fun, tongue-in-chic aesthetic.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tick Tock

Time flies by so quickly.  Tomorrow I will be attending my goddaughter's graduation from fifth grade.  My bestie and I are celebrating 30 years of friendship later this year.  And this July 29th marks my official thirteenth year as owner of Sorta Kinda Enterprises.

I remember when I walked to the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn on that hot summer day so many years ago and filed my sole proprietorship papers.  It was not a sense of accomplishment that I felt, but it was just one of those things that one must do to classify your endeavor as a business.  Little did I know that it would be my first giant step in my evolution as a business owner and an independent fashion designer.

Some of you know it has not been an easy road and my net worth might even be less than what is was before I started on this fashion odyssey.  But it continues to be a trek that is free of second thoughts.  The simple truth is that I love what I do.  My fashion business has provided me with a sense of purpose.   From the moment I sketch a design to the time that it is made into an actual garment, I am giddy.  Ebullient.  Happy.  I don't know what I would do if I could not create fashion.  Lucky for me I don't have to entertain the thought.  Never mind Father Time as long as I have Lady Fashion to keep me company.

Peace & Fashion!

Friday, June 17, 2011

White Is Right!

Ashanti & DeeDee


Wilbur with Sharon Quinn
Ashanti and DeeDee
Last night I had a date with about five hundred bodacious curvy women!  It was the opening night event for Full-Figured Fashion Week 2011 and we were all clad in white as we boarded the party yacht in Manhattan on 23rd street and FDR drive.  Celebration was the order of business for these goddesses as we threw back cocktails and danced and greeted each other with squeals and hugs.  The event founder, Gwen Devoe, gave a speech where she spoke of how she was inspired to create the 4-day long event after she attended her first NY Fashion Week show and there was no one there whom she, as a plus size woman, could identify with.  It was all quite fabulous.  But most fabulous were my sister, Ashanti, and my model friend, Dee Dee, who rocked SK WiLBUR.  Since seeing is believing, I'm just gonna let the photos speak for themselves.