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NPR Arts & Life

Breaking Into The Fashion Industry From The Kitchen Table

Passport for Fashion is Charlotte’s largest spring fashion show and is estimated to attract around 3,000 people to the NC Music Factory. Around 200 models will wear designs from fashion industry professionals, as well as work from local aspiring designers. WFAE's Briana Duggan spoke with one of them.

It’s only days until Sara Johnson’s big fashion show, and the aspiring designer is stressed - to say the least.

“Totally overwhelmed not at all glamorous and thrilling not at all, not at all , the opposite. I feel a mess."

The thirty-four year old mother of one boy and two girls is sewing at her kitchen table in Statesville. Around her moves the life of most mothers – questions, interruptions, and pets.

“I had to sit down this morning and do nothing for a few minutes because I was thinking of way too many things at a time,” Johnson says. “And my son said, ‘Mom, just don’t think of the other things,’ and I said ‘Well yea, that would be great.”

Johnson is busy. She and her husband have their own side business that 'upcycles' old pieces of scrap wood into large, decorative items. But she’s always been interested in fashion and will often style friends, and make her own clothing. 

She participated in her first fashion show last year. She sat behind the judges, “and when my design came down the runway two of them turned around and gave me a thumbs up," Johnson says. "And when they did that, it was just a whole new level of awesome.”

Johnson wants to turn fashion design into a full time job. “I would love to have my own line,” she says. “I would love to just design under someone else’s label. I just want to be able to do what I love and I love designing clothes, and I want to get better.”

On Saturday, Johnson will compete in Passport for Fashion’s Emerging Designer category. Area boutiques, professional designers, and some fashion industry professionals will attend the event, and look out for the upcoming talent.

“I think a lot of it is just getting out there and showing your work,” Johnson says. 

If she wins, Johnson will receive one-on-one time with the professional designers competing in the event, as well as some fashion industry professionals. She would also receive a space at the Atlanta Apparel Market to present her collection.

Johnson has created her spring collection completely out of vintage fabrics, in simple designs, in various shades of green. She hopes her designs will catch the eye of a local boutique owner that would sell her clothes. From there she can develop her style, test the market, and ultimately apply for a spot larger fashion or trade shows. 

But for now, Johnson is just looking forward to seeing her work on the runway. 

“Do I ever want to show in New York? Of course, absolutely, I would love to do that. I would love to make it big. But I can be extremely happy if I can just do what I love and people appreciate it.”

Passport for Fashion will take place on Saturday, April 20 at the NC Music Factory. Doors open at 6:30pm and the fashion show begins at 8pm.


  This story is produced through the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, a consortium of local media dedicated to covering the arts.