Thursday, November 1, 2012

SANDY-fied!

My birthday comes each year like clockwork.  And it’s impossible to forget because stores stock up on candy for trick-or-treaters and costumes and all kinds of ghoulish decorations.  I’ve become very adept at fooling myself that everybody is really celebrating me, after all, it does seem only natural and super fabulous that I was born on Halloween.
John Legend flanked by my honey & me
This year my celebrating began last Saturday, when my honey and I were fortunate enough to get complimentary tickets to attend the John Legend concert at the Borgata in Atlantic City.  This was something a little different and quite extraordinary.  I hadn’t been to Atlantic City in over a decade when my honey surprised me with Johnny Mathis tickets.  So let the festivities BEGIN!  The only problem was that an uninvited guest named Sandy was threatening to ruin everything.  As I tweeted updates of every step of my adventure beginning at Port Authority where we were being whisked away by Academy Bus Co. to our destination, friends and family began to leave posts on my Facebook page warning me, “They’re shutting down Atlantic City!  Sandy is coming!”  Once I was assured by David L. who had procured the tickets for me +1 that John (we’re on a first name basis!) was still going on as scheduled, I took an I DARE YOU, SANDY attitude.  John was awesome and so was his opening act Leah Smith.  And as an added bonus, so was hanging out with him backstage after the show!  But my devil-may-care attitude was short lived, because Atlantic City was being shut down at 4 p.m. the next day.  Although I’d heard all the weather predictions about this “Frankenstorm”, I was not a believer.  “Kiss my ASSETS, Sandy!” I’d seen New Yorkers in a panic with Irene and I was so not buying into the mass hysteria.  But just to be on the safe side, my honey and I were safely back home in NYC by 2:30 Sunday afternoon!
Clearly, Sandy was intent on showing me a thing or two because she wreaked complete and utter havoc.  Homes and communities and Roller Coasters have been destroyed.  A friend of mine who didn’t even live in an evacuation zone almost perished when water rushed into her apartment threatening to drown her.  She lost all her worldly possessions.  Luckily, she got away with her life.  And as I write this in the dark, I am waiting for Con Ed to restore electricity to my block after power was shut down due to sparking wires.  Sandy definitely won out this time.  My celebration was seriously curtailed.  And yet I remain grateful for another birthday and another breath.  Things could have been so much worse.
Peace & Fashion!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Coming Out in the Wash

Cynde Watson at NY Fashion Week
Last night I was fortunate enough to have been invited to the launch event for a new cosmetics line called RICH STUDIO.  Conceived and created by master celebrity makeup artist and former executive director of global makeup artistry/education for Bobbi Brown, Cynde Watson has developed a line that truly is rich in color and texture. I caught up with Cynde for a brief moment as she was busy overseeing the festivities.  She divulged that the new line is a personal and professional triumph that was a year and a half in the making.  And it shows!  Women of different hues had flocked to Honey Salon in Harlem to be beautified by the skilled makeup artists on hand.  Each woman was camera ready fabulous after her turn in the make up chair.

While sipping on delicious watermelon martinis, Ashanti and I met a bevvy of lovely people who are movers and shakers.  Some I'd met previously and others who I've wanted to come face-to-face with.  Audrey Smaltz, the founder of The Ground Crew, was in attendance.  Although she never remembers me, I always love seeing her.  She has a long, rich history in fashion from the early days of the Ebony Fashion Showcase that traveled all over the U.S. to the fantasy fashion show she presented on The Oprah Winfrey Show many years ago. Audrey is an authority on the industry.  And she gives it to you straight - no chaser.  So when she advised me to forego my line of accessible luxury pieces for the curvy woman and, instead, focus on cheaper fashions, it made me take pause.  She said,  "Wilbur, the client you dream of dressing is always trying to lose weight and she is not going to spend the money on the kind of quality you are offering.  Go CHEAP!"  That was difficult to hear, but it is something that I am definitely going to ponder.

There were others, too, like Bevy Smith, Leonard Bridges, Lamarr Nanton, Lloyd Boston, and Deborah Gregory, of course.  Way too many stories to bore you with at this time.  But if you keep up with me, I am sure they'll eventually come out.  After all, doesn't it always come out in the wash.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Don't Dismiss Me

A tense moment for me on "24 Hour Catwalk"
Early this morning on facebook, one of my supporters who happens to be a curvy girl, make up artist, and fellow entrepreneuer, posted something that made me stop and take pause.  She wrote, "I love being overlooked.  It makes me work harder."  I thought to myself, "Kelly Brown, you must be crazy!!"  After many years, 15 to be exact, of toiling in virtual obscurity, I am tired of being overlooked.  Truth be told, I'm tired of working harder.  I want my gifts and talents recognized by somebody who is in a position of affluence and influence so that my load can be lessened.  I want financial success to stop being so darn elusive.  So, of course, I had to comment.  After carefully weighing my words, I typed, "I intensely dislike being overlooked.  Ignored.  Sends a message that I have little or no value." I thought that would be the end of it.  I thought I could get on with the rest of my day basking in my glum.  Boy was I wrong!  Kelly B quickly responded, "Wilbur Pack, Jr. it has the opposite effect on me.  I don't take it as me having little or no value, I take it as someone not having the clarity to see the great value I know I have! take it in stride and go harder - it usually ends up in those who overlooked you regretting that they did!"

Kelly Brown
The universe has a way of sending just the right message at just the right time.  Kelly Brown delivered that message because I needed it.  Although I continue to move forward, there are moments when I falter and I just want to feel sorry for myself.  Yet, I know it is an emotion that is too heavy to bear on this path.  If I am going to reach my pinnacle, I cannot let these kinds of feelings weigh me down.  Now, I am refocused and re-energized.  Look out world because I am coming through.  And all of you who dare to dismiss me, you may want to give it a second thought!  My name is VICTORY.  If you want to check out my girl Kelly Brown, check her out at MASQUEmag.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Doin' It!

I just didn't have the financial resources to go full out for NY Fashion Week last month.  You know the saying, "Go Big or Go Home!"  But there is always next season.  In fact, I've already got a few plans in the works.  But it's too early to speak on.  As soon as they start taking shape, I promise to share the exciting news with you.

Last week, I was one of seven or eight fashion designers who lent their names and their designs to a charity benefit for an organization called The Color of Teal which helps in the fight against ovarian cancer.  There was a day long expo followed by a fashion show that featured yours truly.  It is always important, I feel, to give back.  This disease has personally touched my life because a few years ago, my neighbor, who used to babysit me, succumbed to this awful disease.  I was honored to be asked to participate.  It also gave me a spotlight to debut one of my pieces for spring 2013.  My collection entitled CLANDESTINED is a soupcon of color, print, and texture. 

A Sneak Peek of SK WiLBUR Spring 2013 - CLANDESTINED
Also on my plate, I am sketching Fall 2013, sourcing fabrics, and coming up with the narrative for the collection.  There is no rest for the weary.  But I fully embrace my schedule and I know that I am very fortunate to be in a position to pursue my dreams.

P.S.  Don't forget to tell all your curvy friends that skwilbur.com is live and they should shop, Shop, SHOP!

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going Live

Thursday of last week, the revamped skwilbur.com premiered.  I wanted it to look a lot more polished.  Sophisticated.  I wanted it to have an aesthetic akin to net-a-porter.com - a shopping site with an editorial feel.  But the fabulous shopping experience offering "accessible luxury" that I had in mind would cater exclusively to plus size women who are still marginalized and underserved.

The company website has never truly represented what the SK WiLBUR brand is about.  At least, that's how I feel.  I just don't think my business partners and I were able to truly convey to the previous web designers what BOLD, MODERN, & CLASSIC style looked like to us.  I think Frantz, our latest and most thoughtful designer to date, has finally got it right.

About a month and a half ago, I was sitting in Starbucks in Penn Station reading a book while waiting for my train home.  A gentleman walked up to me and asked if he could sit in the empty seat next to mine.  I must have looked at him strangely because that's when he said, "I know New Yorkers are very particular about their personal space."  Honestly, whenever I am anywhere and I see an available seat, I sit in it - no questions asked.  "Oh you must not be from New York," I responded, "because New Yorkers don't care how uncomfortably tight it might be, we are going to sit down."  We chuckled and ended up having a brief and engaging conversation.  As it turned out, Alain (that's his name) was a Floridian until the age of nine when his family moved to New York.

When I noticed it was just about time for my train to be announced, I bid farewell to Alain and made my way to the correct track.  At Jamaica Station, where I needed to switch to another train, I saw Alan on the platform.  He didn't see me and I just laughed to myself.  When I boarded my connecting train, I saw my new acquaintance already seated.  "You're stalking me," I roared hysterically.  As the train cruised along the tracks, Alain confided that he is in construction, but has a background in film.  I showed him photos of my designs and disclosed some of what I had been working on.

"Well if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know," Alain offered.

"I could really use a web designer who won't charge me an arm and a leg."

"I just happen to have a friend who designs websites.  I will text his info to you."  I handed Alain my business card before getting off the train at my stop.

By the time, I was home I had received a text from Alain with Frantz's contact information.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Some people might call it destiny or kismet.  But I'd like to think that the universe was creating a pathway for me to connect with Frantz.  I am very pleased with the work that Frantz has done so far and I believe that Sorta Kinda Enterprises finally has a clear web identity on which we can confidently build from.  If you haven't done so, check us out.

Peace & Fashion!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Fashion's Night Out 2012 - A Breakdown

Suma, SK WiLBUR, and Ashanti
Last night, my sister and I painted the town a fierce shade of fabulous as we traipsed from SoHo to the Upper East Side.  Our first stop was Piperlime, a bricks and mortar outpost of the wildly popular accessories & apparel website which has just opened on Wooster Street.  It was crowded, just like everywhere else, but the line to get in moved along quickly and efficiently.  I was relieved I didn't have to feign insult and indignation questioning the men in black responsible for crowd control, "Do you know who I am?"  Inside there was a candy bar with only lime colored treats and a bar that was serving Zoe-tinis named in honor of the famously ubiquitous celebrity stylist/designer/reality show star Rachel Zoe who was scheduled to make an appearance later on in the evening.  After Ashanti and I were loaded down with candy and cocktails, we were lucky enough to find a seat.  I immediately struck up a conversation with Suma who writes her own style-savvy blog TheFashionBeautyJunkie.com.  Adorned with a nose piercing and tattoos all over, I complimented her on her dress choice.  And then I shared with Suma my joy designing for the often neglected and marginalized curvy goddess.  She volunteered to  write a little something-something about the full-figured woman, which I thought was a great idea, naturally.

SK WiLBUR with Cornelia Guest
Never one to let grass grow under my feet, Ashanti and I soon bid adieu to Suma and headed to Bloomingdale's 59th Street where my friend Cornelia Guest was appearing with her chic line of cruelty-free handbags and purses.  Hanging with Cornelia and her very cute assistant Jesse was all smiles, laughs, and good times.

I had to settle for store signage.
After photos and a remedial course in "tweeting" from Ashanti, it was "kiss-kiss goodbye" to C & J and Ashanti and I braved the crowds as we made our way to master shoe craftsman Manolo Blahnik's boutique on 54th street.  Cyndi Lauper was scheduled to perform, but the line to get in was BANANAS.   To my dismay, I soon learned, that I needed to be on the guest list to be part of the crowd inside and not part of the outside crowd.  I tried to feign the indignation and insult I did not have to summon at Piperlime, but the two causasian girls holding the clipboards and teetering in their 4 inch pumps, Blahniks probably, were not buying.  So Ashanti and I walked away stylishly defeated with our heads held high straight to the subway and headed home.  Now I just have to figure out for 2013 how I get onto these exclusive guest lists.

By the way, check out today's issue of USA Today.  Your's truly is included on page 4 of a special Full Figured Fashion Supplement. Doesn't look like I got Fashion Star, but there's always this.

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Celebrating In Style

My mother in her
"Birthday Suit"
This week the career takes a back seat as my siblings and I celebrate my mother's 70th birthday.  It's a huge occasion for us because many from both sides of my family have not lived long enough to see this age.  In fact, my great Aunt Edie who turns 80 next year and my mother are the only "chosen" ones so far.  To commemorate the celebration, I, of course, designed a dress for the old girl.  It will also be included in the Spring 2013 collection I am calling Clandestiny.  It's all color blocked saffron and marigold linen with a cotton ikat thrown in for good measure.  Here's a sneak peek and a lovely photo of the two eldest family members.  Stay tuned and I will keep you posted on all the festivities.

Peace & Fashion!
My mother and my Aunt Edie

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Possessing A Prizefighter's Determination

Sometimes I struggle with what I am going to write in my online journal.  Someone in PR once told me that I should not share too many of my doubts.  She reasoned that potential collaborators/investors would be turned off by my transparency and seeming lack of confidence.  She said, "Investors are confident in people who are confident in themselves."  She's probably right.  But the truth is that self-doubt is just par for the course when you are in a creative field.  I've spoken to writers, filmmakers, painters, singers, and, of course, other designers and we all suffer with bouts of self-doubt.  There are actually many similarities in our approaches to attaining success.  But what strikes me most is that we are all bold and confident enough to put our creativity out there for the world to judge.  I think transparency can be very liberating.  It demonstrates that my struggles and imperfections are no different than yours and that is unifying.  It also lends me a certain approachability.

Oscar Dela Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather
I mean, I'd  like to be able to consistently create a minimum of two collections a year without worrying about how I am going to afford fabrics and the costs of construction.  And I wish I could mass produce without fretting over finances and wondering how I am going to turn a dime into a dollar and a dollar into twenty-five thousand dollars.  But in the end, I don't let the odds against me prevent me from dreaming and pushing forward.

Last week, I finally accepted that I would not be able to actively participate in New York Fashion Week which officially begins on September 6th.  And I learned that I was not one of the twelve recipients of the Mission: Small Business Grant from Chase Bank.  Back in June, many of you voted so that I would be considered.  It's a bummer to have to sit out this fashion week, but there is still a Spring collection that must be completed and you better believe that I have already started preparing for Fashion Week February 2013.  And I just know the finances to fuel my vision will come from somewhere.

Do not judge me based on my bouts with self-doubt.  Save the judgements for how I am able to weather those moments and keep it moving.  With fifteen years under my belt, it is clear that I am a survivor.  And I am a winner.

Peace & Fashion!

Friday, August 3, 2012

It Ain't Over

Last Thursday evening, after posting to my blog and shutting down my laptop, I noticed the flashing red light on my phone signaling I had a new message.  The crackberry moniker is so appropriate because I have become quite addicted to checking my messages as soon as I feel the vibration or see the light.  I never thought I would become one of those people, but I have surrendered to the sweet intoxication of being tapped in at all times.  When I tapped the little envelope on my screen I was able to see - "Fashion Star - CONGRATULATIO. . ." and  I immediately let out a loud yelp.  I opened the message, but after the first sentence - The Fashion Star Casting team is so excited to move you on to the next round! - everything else was a blur.  I was so happy, grinning from ear-to-ear, and in total shock.  I just cannot believe how the universe, the stars, and the planets have aligned and what they made happen.  I'd given up on being the next FASHION STAR when I wasn't called back within a week.  But it seems that every time I am ready to throw in the towel, things start to turn in my favor.  I guess my faith needs to be a little stronger.  Although I am only at the quarterfinal stage, I am encouraged.  I'll keep you posted.  I am in it to win it!

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just A Quick Look

This week, in the midst of trying to figure out how I am going to overcome what seems like insurmountable hurdles in moving my business forward, the video from Full Figured Fashion Week was posted on YouTube and Facebook by Gwen DeVoe, the founder of the weeklong celebration of curvy women.  It reminded me of how validating it was for me to be chosen to participate in the Independent Designer's Showcase.

Each season is going to have its own set of obstacles and each season I'm going to have to be more creative in finding solutions if I am going to attain the kind of success I have dreamed of for so long.  So today, I am not going to dwell on the headaches or the hurdles, but I am going to celebrate how far I've come on this journey.  Please watch the video below and enjoy!

Peace & Fashion!






Thursday, July 19, 2012

Everybody Is A Star

Last Saturday, I stood on line among other designer hopefuls for almost three hours  for a chance to be a competitor on the next season of NBC's Fashion Star.  Truth be told, I was a little disappointed with the outcome of my stint on "24 Hour Catwalk".  I may have lost, but I was the most graceful and distinguished loser in the history of reality TV.  I fully expected to be hounded by TV executives looking to add a more polished flavor to the reality TV landscape.  Surely the popularity of all this Jersey Shore Real Housewives Basketball Wives foolishness is waning and viewers are ready to get back to good old fashioned values.  Apparently NOT!  I have not even been approached by a production intern.  So I've continued to work on the plantation in the mornings and pursue my fashion dreams afternoons, evenings, and weekends.

Last year when I auditioned for Fashion Star, it was pure chaos and disorganization.  No wonder I wasn't chosen!  How does one stand out from all the noise and mayhem?  Clearly, I could not be heard over the din.  This time, however, it was completely organized making my chances at being selected much stronger.

I approached the task with vim and vigor.  I got all artsy craftsy and made mood boards which creatively displayed my inspiration for my EYE CANDY collection with images of Alice in Wonderland and a still from "The Hunger Games" along with my sketches and catchy phrases like Sweet Sophistication and Mouth Watering Style.  I packed up my strongest pieces and brought along some pieces from my FINE AND DANDY collection so the judges could see that I wasn't just a one note designer.  I can do fierce and fabulous for the smaller sized divas, too!  I was determined to get a spot on this next season.

Almost two weeks ago, my honey had bought be a new pair of shoes, but I refused to wear them fearing I might scuff them prior to the audition.  Hey, I need to look polished and fabulous as well.  I shaved my head when I woke up that morning giving me that just shaved Black Mr. Clean gleam.  Although I had not stuck to my commitment to drop some weight prior to the big day, there was no way in the world that the judges would be able to pass me over this time.  I was ready to W-I-N!

When I got to the head of the line, I was still cool as a cucumber.  After all, this is what I am destined to do.  I got my application and was escorted into the hotel where everything was happening.  Then I was seated in a waiting area along with about 15 others as we listened patiently for our numbers to be called.

When they called 173, I made my way into the small room where numbered tables were set up in front of rolling racks.  I excitedly unpacked all my pieces and laid out my look books and mood boards and waited for one of the judges to approach me.  Jennifer introduced herself.  I pulled each look from the rack and explained my inspiration.  After I showed her the clean, professional workmanship on my pieces, she nodded and said another judge would be coming over to talk to me.   When the next judge came over, I animatedly explained my aesthetic and showed her the pieces, too.  She asked me, "Are you from New York?"  I answered, "Born and bred from Queens. Woo!  Woo!"  She smiled and exclaimed, "You certainly have a lot of energy."   My tongue-in-chic response was, "I hope it's a good thing."  When she asked if I had auditioned for any other reality shows.  I told her of my stint on "24 Hour Catwalk".  As she scribbled some notes, I cheekily added, "I hope you don't hold that against me."  We chatted briefly about how we didn't think there was going to be another season of "24. . ." and she finished by saying, "Okay, we'll be in touch."

I haven't heard from them since.  Each day my hope of becoming the next Fashion Star dwindles a little more.  But this is not the end of the road.  Tailor made opportunities for me are on the horizon.  I can just feel it.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hey, Mr. Mercury!

Elizabeth Taylor in costume as Maggie the Cat
It's been hotter than hell!  So during the week, holiday included, I sought refuge inside where I could luxuriate in an air conditioned space.  For the most part, I stayed home venturing out only when absolutely necessary, i.e. putting my time in at the plantation and grocery shopping.  See, my life really isn't all runway shows and ducking from the paparazzi.  So it left my mind plenty of time to go creative crazy!  And as a result, my ideas for the next collection have come fully into focus.  The name of the Spring 2013 collection is CLANDESTINY.

While I remain steadfast in my mission to create sophisticated, tailored pieces for the curvy woman, this time my muse is sexier.   She smolders.  My mind zeroed in on the timeless beauty of Elizabeth Taylor, specifically in her role as Maggie the Cat in the movie "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof".  Ms. Taylor looked oh-so-sublime in the scene with Paul Newman in which she is wearing a second-skinned slip.  Talk about tailoring!

The basic story arc for this collection has to do with a high-powered businesswoman taking a lunch break from the boardroom to meet her built-like-a-Greek-god lover at a nearby hotel for a passionate turn between the sheets.  Hey, divas need love, too!  Just to reiterate, I design fashion pieces that allow a woman to seamlessly transition from 9 to 5 to cocktails after work and beyond.  This scenario would be one of those beyond moments.  Stay tuned as the collection and all its elements come together.

In other news, I'd like to thank you for helping my team and I reach our goal of garnering 250 Votes in Chase bank's Mission: Small Business initiative.  We have moved forward to the next level.  I am not sure what the next step is, but you can be assured that I will keep you in the loop.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

When The Fake Fur Flies

Yes, it's true, I've been out of the blogging mix for awhile now.  And I've been quiet on purpose.  Frankly, I am just tired of writing about my money woes.  And my lack of money was heavy on my brain and my heart.  You just didn't need to read another post about it, because I know everybody's in the same proverbial boat.

Photo Courtesy of Richard Lew
I really relied on the universe to provide the pathway to eliminating my $8000 deficit for my samples.  I prayed, fasted, and meditated.  There were tears and a couple of sleepless nights.  In the end, the money came at the last minute from a resource that I have called on before.  Every door and window was shut, except this one and I am really grateful.  Just imagine if you had come to see my runway presentation and all I had to show were a couple of dresses and some really pretty drawings.  That's just not the look.


Photo Courtesy of Richard Lew

Photo Courtesy of Alec Turner

Ashanti in SK WiLBUR original
design with model
MariJo and Wilbur

Photo Courtesy of Richard Lew

Full Figured Fashion Week was an AWESOME experience.  It was validating for me as a designer and empowering to the hundreds of Curvies who descended upon NYC for the occasion.  It started with a "Meet The Press" Event for all of the designers.  All of the bloggers and people from the media got a chance to meet Ashanti and me up close and personal.  There were also PR people there from some of the cable networks.  We are looking to get more involved with TV.  There was an All White Attired Cruise around NYC, a fashion show at the Bloomingdale's flagship on 59th street, a networking party where I got to meet new people and reconnect with some of my industry friends, and then the Independent Designer's Runway Showcase where my pieces came down the runway.  It was all like a whirlwind.


Blogger Gaelle-Vanessa Prudencio
in a custom
SK WiLBUR look and Wilbur

But work is never-ending.  And I love it!  If you haven't heard, we're trying to get all of our friends on facebook to vote for SK WiLBUR at http://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/ so that we can become eligible for a $250,000 business grant from Chase.  If you haven't voted yet, please vote now.  And if you have friends on facebook, please urge them to vote for us, too. We're pretty close to the goal.

I have already begun work on my Spring 2013 collection.  The working title is "CLANDESTINY".  It's all about looking chic from day to evening, of course.  But I wanted my muse to be a little more vampy, sexier,  for that lunch break tryst.  Sounds scandalous, right?!  A lady's got to be prepared, no matter the circumstance.  If she's wearing SK WiLBUR, she always is.

That's it for now!  Don't forget to VOTE.  We'll chat soon.  I promise.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I LOVE EYE CANDY!

So it's time for the big reveal.  It's really just a preview of what's to come.  But I am so excited, I cannot keep it to myself any longer.  This is EYE CANDY by SK WiLBUR.

Since no man is an island, I must ackowledge my team for the wonderful job they did to bring my vision to fruition.  The models are Nicole Z., my mother Barbara, and my niece Samarra and my nephew Nile.  I cast myself as Wilbur "Wonka".  My make up artist, Lisa Warner, created the make up looks based on "The Hunger Games" and Old Hollywood photos.  My fashion stylist, Denardo Jenkins, gave suggestions that were inspired.  He also helped accessorize the models and the set as well.  My hairstylist, Michelle Swiney, went above and beyond the call of duty when she visited my mother to do the initial work on her hair two days prior and then was on set bright and early to touch her style up and create beautiful hair for Nicole and Samarra.  My cake stylist, Louisa Harris, unleashed her creativity to come up with two beautiful mock-up cakes for the shoot.  My cousin, Alicia, was my candy stylist who brought an assortment of sweets for display.  My sister, Ashanti, who is my right hand (sometimes my left) baked the cupcakes and was responsible for the Eye Candy posters.  She assisted everybody on set as well.  And lastly, my sister-in-law, Rebecca Rodriguez, who is the official photographer for SK WiLBUR - Sorta Kinda Enterprises, LLC always brings the heat with her trained eye and her incredible photoshop skills.

We almost never hear about the behind-the-scenes crew, but it's such an integral part of creating an image.  I love my team and I depend on them.  Let's continue to ROCK ON!

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sneak Peek

I feel like I am going to bust waiting for my Full-Figured Fashion Week debut.  I will be showing my collection for Fall 2012 on June 15 on the runway.  Here are a couple of photos I took during the fitting process that are sure to whet your appetite.  Have you bought your tickets, yet?  Click here to purchase them now!



Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's Not As Easy As It Looks

I remember when I was in 7th or 8th grade and I was on altar duty with the pastor at my parochial school.  There was a series of short films being shown to the student body during the service.  I was the one responsible for moving the tall, 20 ft screen off to the side once the film finished just before the pastor was about to administer communion.  I'd seen my peers move it effortlessly during previous services, so I had no idea how difficult it was.  The weight of the screen was unbalanced, however, and once I attempted to lift it, the screen and I both became very wobbly.  "Oh God, please don't make me drop this thing and then fall on top of it," I prayed silently to myself.  There was a chorus of gasps from the congregation as they watched me struggle to move the screen.  Luckily my prayer was answered and I was able to slowly inch it to the side without it crashing down in the pulpit.

My fashion design career is a lot like that screen I struggled to balance so many years ago in grade school.  I wasn't prepared for the unbalanced weight of it, but somehow I kept my composure and managed to keep it upright.  The last couple of months have been fraught with challenges that have threatened to topple my fashion dreams, and yet somehow I remain upright.

Nicole Z. wears Twizzler dress
with Suede Belt in Grape
This weekend past my sister-in-law packed up her family including my niece, nephew, Biscuit the chihuahua, and my brother and drove to NY to photograph my collection for Fall 2012 called Eye Candy.  She and my brother, N'Gai, have been dealing with their own set of challenges down in Virginia so I was just really relieved that they were all able to make it.  My A-Team that included the make up artist Lisa Warner, stylist Denardo Jenkins, the hat designer Otis Damo'n, and hairstylist Michelle Swiney were all on hand to bring the models to life.  And they agreed to wait for their compensation until my next payday.  Despite the financial challenges of running a fledgling fashion company, we were able to capture some great moments on film and have a good time while doing it.

It is never as easy as it looks, but the results are always stellar.  I am still standing and my dreams are intact.  So I press on.  Forward March!

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cinch It!

I met Deirdre so many years ago - the early 1990s, I think.  She got a job at the plantation where I work and we became fast friends after she corrected the way I pronounced her name.  "It's DEAR-DRA, DEAR-DRA," she proclaimed loudly in her slight southern drawl.  "Get it Right!"  For a white girl, I thought, she sure had a lot of black girl attitude.  Only thing missing was the neck roll.  I liked that she wasn't afraid to take me to task and she hasn't been able to shake me loose ever since.

Deirdre comes from one of those Irish Catholic families bigger than The Brady Bunch.  She shared with me one day early in our friendship that she had a brother, Kenny, who had a line of leather couture.  It was all studded motorcycle jackets and bustiers in fabulous colors like caramel, hunter green, mauve, etc.  The salmon with turquoise nail heads was one of my favorites.  When Kenny found out he had contracted AIDS, he got out of the business and moved to Woodstock.  Deirdre would become his caregiver until he passed.  Although I never met Kenny, I always felt a special connection.  Deirdre regaled me with stories of his brash, bold personality.  He sounded like the kind of person that lived life fearlessly.  The kind of person I'd want to be.

A few years later, when Deirdre was getting rid of some leather skins from the business, she gave them to me.  I had already begun my own journey in fashion trying to be as fearless as Kenny was.  This week, I finally used some of the leather from Kenny's collection to make a belt.  His spirit seemed to guide me.  It was like he was smiling down on me as I was guiding the leather under the sewing machine needle.  I am really proud of myself and the result.  Sometimes, I cannot believe that I've made this decision to follow my dreams and do something that I really love.  And I'd like to think that it is angels, like Kenny, who have made it possible for me to realize this dream.

Peace & Fashion!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Behind The Curtain on SK WiLBUR

I've been up until 1:00 in the morning several nights the last couple of weeks creating some of the accessories that we will be offering on www.skwilbur.com this coming fall.  Needless to say, I am exhausted.  But I'm not complaining.  In fact, I'm dying to share the images of the handbags and belts with you, but I'm going to hold out just a little longer.  In the meantime, however, I've provided the video interview that I did with The Stylish Maven during NY Fashion Week last month.  It is such a different perspective to see myself the way others see me.  So please take a quick look, learn about my inspiration, and get a sneak peek at some of the pieces that will coming to skwilbur.com this fall.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

If I Told You That

 
SK WiLBUR, The Stylish Maven, & Nicole Z.
She is wearing the studded baseball jersey
sweatshirt with the "Licorice" tweed skirt
and heather grey gloves.

The SK WiLBUR "Lollipop" sleeveless top and skirt with the "Gumball" hat byOtis Damo'n Millinery



I was interviewed on this Friday past by Troy Artis, aka The Stylish Maven.  It really was a pleasure meeting him.  I was readying my model Nicole Z. for her on-camera appearance at the sample workroom, when he and his crew stepped out of the elevator.  I apologized for running a little behind, but Troy would have none of that.  "No apology necessary.  We're just going to check out the place so we can set up our shots."  His laidback manner made it a very pleasant, and easy experience.  Both his videographer and photographer were on hand to document each word and movement.  He asked questions about the collection, my experience on 24 Hour Catwalk, as well as the impetus for me to design for the curvy woman.  I think it all went swimmingly well.  As soon as the video is posted, I will supply you with the link.  In the meantime, I have posted a couple of stills from the interview.

I would be terribly remiss if I didn't address the untimely passing of one of my favorite R-n-B divas, Ms. Whitney Houston.  More than any other singer, she provided the soundtrack for my young adult life.  I felt very connected to her, like she was a friend or family member.   In fact, one of my very dear friends, Wanda Jones, whom I met so many years ago while in college, used to tease me that Whitney and I were "close personal friends".  But Whitney did seem to know me so well because whatever emotion I happened to be feeling, she had a song to express it.  When my baby sister called with the news on Saturday night, I was shocked and saddened.  I've been reminiscing with my best friend. . . talking about some of our favorite performances, posting them on my facebook page.  That has alleviated some of the sorrow.  She was an amazing talent who enriched my life.  Whitney will be sorely missed.  May she rest in peace.

Peace & Fashion!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Keep Moving Up. . .

Tonight I am being interviewed by The Stylish Maven, aka Troy Artis, for his web series on YouTube.  My model, Nicole Z., will be joining me on camera to preen and pose in a few looks from my Eye Candy Fall 2012 collection.  I see Mr. Artis as an artist, like myself, carving out at niche in the rough & tumble glamorous world of fashion.  As I have said many times in the past, "It's hard out here for a pimp!"  It's a declaration that I adopted from the movie Hustle & Flow.  And I say it only half-jokingly.  While I am not referring specifically to prostitution, I am very honest about the dedication that is required to make a name for yourself.  My journey really is an impassioned hustle.

I am very pleased and honored that Mr. Artis requested an interview with me.  He's already told me that he will be asking some pointed questions about my reality TV debut on 24 Hour Catwalk.  OH, THE PRESSURE.  But seriously, it's awesome to know that someone else beyond my family, friends, and followers is interested in what I do.

A lot more work needs to be done on the collection, but I figured this will give a sneak peek into my crazy creative process.  So stay tuned for the big reveal!

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sitting This One Out


Latest Handbag Creation from SK WiLBUR

This February, for NY Fashion Week, I won't be producing a runway show or presentation of my Fall 2012 collection.  In the past, I've had bouts with feelings of inadequacy because I believed that I was just falling short of the prize.  Not being able to be a part of the twice yearly fashion fray for financial reasons (it costs a lot to mount even the smallest of spectacles), I would live vicariously through the daily coverage in newspapers or try my best to ignore it altogether.  I was like the kid in school who missed the class field trip and was left out of the conversation with my peers because it was all they were talking about.  Call it peer pressure for the fashion set.  Even now, I wish I could be a part of the NY Fashion Week game instead of being a bench warmer.  But I am no longer grappling with those feelings of inadequacy that used to plague me.  I don't feel the same kind of pressure any more because now I am playing the fashion game on my own terms.  It is far more important to begin laying the foundation for a revamped and dazzling website for September where our goal is to increase website traffic and grow our customer base.  Besides, after all that work of staging and casting and inviting and styling, the payoff is sometimes not worth the headache.

Creatively, I am in a great place.  I am just waiting for the Curvies of the world to fully support what I do.  And then it's on and poppin'!  And God willing, I won't have to sit out another NY Fashion Week again.

Peace & Fashion! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

24 Hours A Day of Fashion

I was supposed to write something yesterday.  But between watching the Michael Jackson homage on "Glee" and sewing another handbag, I missed my mark.  If only I could have more than 24 hours in a day.  As Miss Scarlet said, "Tomorrow is another day."  And so, alas, here I am on my tomorrow.

I have had to come down from my reality TV high and get back to reality, actually.  So yesterday, after I did my time at the plantation, George (my incredibly skilled tailor) and I met with my new favorite model, Nicole Z.  She really is quite lovely and when you've found someone like her, a fitting, while it is work, really can be a lot of fun.  It's like having your own live version of a curvy Barbie doll and you get to change her outfits including shoes, hosiery, and jewelry.  Each time I work on a collection, when I see the clothes begin to take shape a giddiness starts to set in.  Yesterday really was no exception.

Next week is the beginning of NY Fashion Week.  I won't be doing a presentation of any kind and the collection won't even be finished until next month, finances notwithstanding.  My business partners and I are looking to use the money that we would use for a presentation more wisely when we revamp our website for a late August/early September re-launch.  But in the meantime, the boutique at www.skwilbur.com is still open for business.  So why don't you stop buy and order a fabulous dress or an amazing handbag?!

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Check Yourself B4 You Wreck Yourself!

All the attention that I've been receiving as a result of my appearance on 24 Hour Catwalk has been validating.  Mind-blowing, in fact.  First, when the commercials began to air before my episode did and people were reaching out to me on Twitter and Facebook, it was very flattering.  I grinned excitedly.  Once the previews began to pop up on movie screens in multiplexes everywhere and everybody from my LinkedIN connections to people I know through the plantation started to hit me up, it became so surreal.

Since I taped the show almost 6 months ago, I hoped that my "fans" would not be disappointed with my showing.  But what was done was done.  There just was no use tripping on it now. So I watched, just like everybody else, to see how the editors would make me look and what the episode's final outcome was.  There has still been an outpouring of compliments and congrats.  And I am so appreciative.  But I have also received an email that made the devil rise up inside of me.  It might have been easier to ignore it, but I felt the sender deserved a tailor-made response. Below is the original email followed by my response.  What do you think?

You can't be serious. I saw you on Lifetime and came to your site to see your line. It looks like the stuff you see at Torrid and Lane Bryant. I am so disappointed. I am a tall, athletic (yes I work out) plus size woman.  Size 18. And, I can't find a grown up, sexy dress for a 42 year old. I want to wear dresses like the real housewives of Atlanta. Is there a real "plus" size designer anywhere? Plus size doesn't mean bigger ugly. The clothes still need to be fashion forward and pretty.

Greetings ------,

My business partners and I are in receipt of your email and have carefully reviewed it. While I can certainly understand your frustration with finding "grown up, sexy dresses" for your "athletic" PLUS size frame, I take issue with your approach. Perhaps you were having a bad day when you sent the email, as I've had a few of my own a time or two. But there really is no excuse for your bad manners and poor email etiquette. If there is nothing to your liking on the company site, the more polite, dare I say, adult, thing to do would have been to dismiss us as another plus size design company who just cannot get it right. But your slam against my designs was really unnecessary. Since I am 44, it is clear we are from the same generation, but my parents taught me not to comment at all if I didn't have anything constructive or nice to say. In light of my mother's advice, I am going to end this response now. I hope you are able to find a designer who does PLUS size clothing suited for you that looks like something from "The Housewives of Atlanta".

Peace & Fashion!

Wilbur E Pack, Jr.
Designer/Principal
SK WiLBUR/Sorta Kinda Enterprises, LLC


We need to think about what we say and what we write to people because we just don't know the kind of effect it's going to have on them.  As my friend Deborah G. told me many years ago, "Words have power."   If I was teetering on the brink of a psychotic break, this email might have pushed me over the edge.  I might have even gone postal on the sender.  Please try to remember, nasty and rude behavior is uncalled for and never in style.
 
Peace & Fashion!






Friday, January 20, 2012

What You Didn't See Last Night. . .

Being chosen to be a competitor on 24 Hour Catwalk was a great experience and a fantastic opportunity.  Of course, it would have been better if I had won the $10,000 prize, but I am stoked about the exposure expecting that the appearance will move me to the next level in the fashion game.  After years of auditioning for the most popular (Project Runway - season 1) to the most obscure (anybody remember The Cut which lasted only 1 season?), I am pleased that I finally got my 18 minutes of fashion reality fame.

It was everything that I expected and a whole lot more.  Some of the minor details were edited out and so I am going to share them now.
  • Although I am only in the first 18 minutes of the show, the call time was 5 a.m. and I didn't finish until 5 p.m.  Many of the crying fits that we witness on reality TV are probably due to a lack of sleep.  I was SO exhausted after it was all said and done.
  • In one of my outtakes, I mention that I was so surprised to see Cynthia Rowley as one of the judges.  What they cut was that I interned with her almost 13 years ago.  She probably didn't recognize me since she just stared at me blankly on camera - AND off.
  • But probably the most important thing that was edited was the fact that Indashio (a crowd favorite, I know) broke the needles on the only 2 home sewing machines that were provided in the workroom.  I am so not a whiz when it comes to garment construction, but I can do it somewhat adequately.  However, I am definitely no good on industrial machines - AT ALL!  That's why I ended up draping the entire challenge.  When I auditioned,I was led to believe that I would not have to sew.  To my chagrin, the very first challenge was a sewing challenge.  In my mind, I said, "UGGHH!"
All in all, it was a great experience.  I wouldn't change a thing (except maybe winning).  But don't feel bad and don't apologize for my not winning.  I sure feel like I did!

Peace & Fashion!