2017年11月09日

Southern Designer Showcase

Mia Carreras’ faith in her design contest entry was so strong that she made plans to go accept the prize months before getting word about her status.


“When I hit the submit button, I said, ‘Let me book this hotel and square this away,’ ” Carreras, a Virginia Beach native now living in Atlanta, said by phone.


She was confident she would be a finalist in Belk’s fifth annual Southern Designer Showcase and attend the event at the department store’s headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. That was in January. Come June, she got confirmation that her dream would be a reality. She was one of five winners out of dozens of applicants. Her Gigi Carreras brand, named after her 10-year-old daughter, will be sold in select Belk stores (including one in Atlanta) beginning in March 2018. It won’t be available at the Suffolk location, the only Belk in Hampton Roads, but the collection will be sold online.


The win comes with a cash prize and inclusion in a boot camp this fall that includes help with fine-tuning the collection; public relations and media training; and instruction on fabric selection, manufacturing and forming relationships with buyers. This type of assistance and exposure is a priceless leg up in the fashion industry. Any emerging or mass market designer can attest to the frustrations of the business side. Most budding designers are unable to get their collections into major department stores, primarily because of the high cost of production and insufficient market knowledge.


But for Carreras, developing a business model has not been what has tripped her up, she said. The training has most helped her in understanding fabric and manufacturing.


“I used to design something, then get the fabric. Now I’m learning about wearability, durability, washability,” Carreras said. “It’s not just what’s appealing to the eye; it’s also marketablilty.”


And she’s now fortunate to have secured a manufacturer just 20 minutes from her home. Plus, there’s the new experience of creating codes for tracking merchandise.


“This is a whole different world for me,” Carreras said.


Carreras took fashion merchandising classes at Kellam High School, and graduated in 1999. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and landed her first job with Sean Jean, the brand founded by media mogul Sean Combs. Her next job was with Akademiks, an urban contemporary brand known for its celebrity following and founded by fellow Kellam alums Donwan and Emmett Harrell.


But the New York life was “a little too much” for Carreras.


“I’m a country girl,” she said. When the opportunity arose, she moved back south and has been in Atlanta 10 years styling her own clients.


She describes the Gigi Carreras brand as having broad age appeal – a mother and daughter sharing a closet would feel comfortable interchanging her pieces, she said. Andy Izquierdo, the chain’s vice president of communications and community relations, said Carreras’ design aesthetic fits Belk’s signature of “Modern. Southern. Style.”


“Mia’s collection distinguishes itself by offering options to satisfy the taste of every woman, whether you are a mother, student or professional” he said in an email interview. “The Southern Designer Showcase allows us to help aspiring individuals accomplish their dreams, while also giving us access to the latest and greatest in southern fashion.”


On hand to help Carreras celebrate this realization will be her family from Hampton Roads, including parents Edward and Gloria Ridley. She said they all are taking a bus to Atlanta for the spring debut in the store there, and she couldn’t be more elated.


Said Carreras: “This is that moment. … You wait for that.”


Speaking of designers from Hampton Roads …


Kenya Freeman, who grew up in Chesapeake and also now lives in Atlanta, survived a near-elimination during last week’s episode of “Project Runway.” Judges were torn over the cohesiveness of her bold plaid coat paired with a streamlined blouse and classic high-waist pants. (Side note: The coat was fierce! I want it.) But they gave Freeman a pass, and she is among the final five, although only three designers will move on to present their collections at New York Fashion Week. Tune in at 9 tonight on Lifetime to see how that went this past September.Read more at:tea length wedding dresses | casual wedding dresses



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