I’ve been in love with fashion since I was a toddler. I remember one particular dress I had at the age of 2 that had these clear/fuchsia buttons on them. It was my favorite dress. I’ve always been drawn to those who dress well and put things together well to express themselves. Even at a young age, I knew someday I would end up in the world of fashion.
As years past, I met people with the same aspirations. With fashion being a tough industry to break in with a broad spectrum of fields, I met many who wanted to be models & others who wanted to be fashion designers. However in 2011, I met a girl from Maryland who truly showed me what it is was have a passion for fashion design & work hard to take it to the next level. Her name was Charla.
Charla was the girl you wanted to hang around. She had such a dope style & she definitely spoke her mind! Charla was always talking about fashion in some sort. Whether she was sharing her latest project or idea or talking about opening her own boutique one day, she just knew fashion was going to be it for her!
I first got to see Charla in action at her first studio in Midtown. I couldn’t believe how many pieces she had to offer! Everything was well planned, laid out, and the clothes – YES MA’AM! I knew then that Charla just didn’t talk about. She was about making her dreams come to life!
The thing I most admire about Charla, was her actual skills to create a piece from a sketch. Charla’s home was filled with fabrics, a sewing room, sketches and anything fashion related you could think of! Charla went on to take it from her home to fulfill her dream of opening her the boutique she always dreamt of! I can truly say she lives, breathes, and loves fashion every single day.
Today’s Hustle, Honey! story is about a woman with razor-sharp focus to build her fashion empire & her fearlessness to bet on the most important person: herself!
LG of BB: How did you develop your interest in fashion design?
CR of CRCCo: As I get older, I believe the true art of sewing and designing is definitely a passed down skill/trade to women of color.
I started sewing at the age of seven. My grandmother was a Home Economics teacher and she used to do more knitting and crocheting, but would create these beautiful, mini-sized crochet ball gowns, and use the body of a dish soap bottle, for the woman’s silhouette. Then she would get a doll head and place it at the top of the bottle into a table topper figurine. That, for whatever reason, intrigued me. Weird as a kid to see it, but I creatively admired it.
My mom also knew how to sew, as it was something that was part of a skill women should have. So when I needed a costume or a performance garment, she would sew it right on up! My next door neighbor and her mother-in-law both knew how to sew, who ended up sewing my prom dress that I had sketched designed. So I had all these women of color exuding the skill my way, and then them all being well sophisticated women and well put together from head to toe, I picked all of that up.
As I listen to a lot of the younger generation, and those that you see in the media, their stories begin pretty much the same…the ones that really have a gift for it.
I know I have a gift and I’m blessed to be gifted with a skill that had definitely been passed down to me, and I made the decision to become talented with it.
Sewing is my go-to for meditation and therapy. I’ve always been an independent individual and always wanted to be my own when it came to style and dress. My parents didn’t care about labels, so I learned not to care about them either. However, I learned how quality of apparel is important, so I’m definitely a fabric guru.
Sewing is my go-to for meditation and therapy. -Charla Ruschelle
LG of BB: What is your mantra in life?
CR of CRCCo: “Keep it Real, Honest and Fly!” It’s easier that way for my peace of mind to live my truth, stylishly!
Fashion wise: Be Original, Stay Fashionably Fly and Get Concocted.
LG of BB: What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome getting CCC off of the ground?
CR of CRCCo: It’s craziness for starters because I had to start over! I had to re-establish my clothing brand, CR Clothing Co./Charla Ruschelle, that I’ve been designing for since 2001. Now being able to obtain a physical space, my shop, Concoctionccc the Work_Shop, hosting my brand as the in-house brand, along with my mission in hosting other local designers, is a rollercoaster ride which I enjoy! I scream at the same time because sometimes the ride is smooth and other times I’m at the top of the hill and then I feel a big drop!
With the shop, I have to get people in the doors to see all the beautiful, limited quantities, styles, and make them aware of additional services offered, such as alterations and sewing classes. This 1st shop to me is more my learning curve of what it takes to have a clothing and design shop and being able to have the strength to bear the ups and downs.
“I’m trying to build an empire, a legacy, be a pioneer, and a mentor to the next generation!”
LG of BB: It is definitely a ride! Everyone always sees the outcome, but not the struggles you had to endure to get where you are. What’s the hardest thing or event you had to overcome to get where you are today?
CR of CRCCo: I think I’m still going through the overcoming and struggles. I’m still not where I want to be with my businesses. I want my designs to be in closets of women who love to find small brand designers, love the story behind the brand, as well as love that the clothes they wear.
Come July, my shop will be a year since doors have opened. People seem to have this idea that once you open your doors, all of the sudden you’re successful and you’ve made it. For me, that’s not the case. I’m a real small business. I don’t have a reality show to make me “relevant”. I don’t have thousands of followers to give the illusion that I’m this bomb diggity of a designer. I am the bomb though, that I do know, but getting the world and just locally to know takes a lot of work.
My team is me & all of this work is on me and me only. From marketing to production to running a physical shop, it’s all me. So with that, the struggle becomes finding balance. Not wanting to give up and overcoming those challenges of perceptions of the big, new culture, that values “likes” that gives this false sense of worth & validation. Staying away from the quick, fast fashion that is trendy but cheap, and finding the consumers who value quality apparel, & still want individuality.
My purpose is not to be a one hit wonder. I’m trying to build an empire, a legacy, be a pioneer, and a mentor to the next generation! So if it takes me a few more years added to what time I’ve already put in, then so be it! Vera Wang became known at 40, so I have 3 more years to strike gold with me pushing to get to my point of success. What else choice do I have? I live and breathe fashion! I’m excellent in my gifts, skills and knowledge and I’m always continuing to learn to be greater.
LG of BB: Who is your dream client?
CR of CRCCo: Actually my dream clients have already started coming my way! Clients who are women, who are making things happen, who embrace who they are and stand tall even when they are tired of standing, but continue to look fabulous in doing so. They are successful in their careers, they are continuing to be great, they can run an executive meeting in the morning and run out to meet up with the ladies for a night out or be home to fix the family a good meal and sip a glass of wine before going to bed.
Now as far as a celebrity client, I would have to say Zendaya, or someone who exudes purpose beyond their talent, and is a natural in mind, body and spirit. I’ve always been able to pick out the soon-to-be A–Lister. The one who you can look at and say, “They’re going to do big things. They have potential to be great. I’m going to keep my eye on this one!” And sure enough I’ve been on point. I believe Zendaya has flourished and I’m excited to see her success continue to bloom. She could definitely rock my style. It’s “A little sassy, definitely chic, and alternatively timeless.” With that, she can rock with her young adult self-till she is refined like Cicely Tyson.
LG of BB: There’s a girl out there, just like yourself, who has dreams & aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur in the fashion world. What advice do you give her?
CR of CRCCo: I speak at many Career Days and there are many young girls are definitely interested in fashion. I ask them, “What are you interested in?” and “What have you started doing to pursue your interest?” I always tell them figure out what they are good at and to learn more about the many aspects of fashion. There are more options in the fashion industry than just being a Fashion Designer.
I give them the phrase of truth “The Starving Artist” because fashion is an art and you have to love it. It comes at a cost and an investment and you have to be willing to invest in what you know of yourself and recognizing your strengths, weaknesses, gifts and talents. Once you are able to figure that all out, then you set your goals and ensure that you have excellence in education, so that you have that as a well-established back up plan. It definitely is useful in order for you to be able to continue to work on your goals in fashion and also allows you to have an outlet to think outside of the box because of your experiences working with in.
LG of BB: What’s next for you & CCC?
CR of CRCCo: I’m in the process of planning the next Shop and Sip for June 18th, as I have them monthly, I’m also focusing on highlighting other local, creative businesses that I would like to alternatively host and carry their products and merchandise. The creative businesses I choose to be a part of the event are unique and carry quality products and merchandise.
By fall, I want to have other locally-made designers and creative businesses products and merchandise to be hosted in the shop, giving a location to entrepreneurs who may not have a physical space and have customers who like to be hands on with their selected merchandise, and like in face customer service. I also have some outside vendors markets I’m participating in, which gives me additional exposure and income for the business.
In a couple of month’s I’ll actually be working on a collection for Fall/Winter 2017/2018, so I can re-stamp my clothing brand, CR Clothing Co. This way, I can venture into opportunities as a Fashion Designer, with international relations as my focus. With the shop, it will be a year in July that it has been open, so growth still is something that is a main focus for Concoction. My goal is to open 9 shops total in selective cities which still have the same concept as this one in Atlanta.
LG of BB: I see you girl. Keep hustlin’.