Fashion meets life.
"Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. That makes beauty."
-Diane von Furstenberg
-Diane von Furstenberg
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In Charlotte, North Carolina Dayvonia Minnis runs her elegant couture fashion company DayLa Couture(the name is a mixture of her first and middle name). Wanting to blend who she is with the type of fashion she creates, Dayvonia produces elegant, dainty clothing with an edgy twist. Wanting it to be more than just a clothing line, DayLa Couture wants to spread clothing acceptance. "I feel like in society we deem people in social class, how cool they are or how pretty or sexy they are by their clothing. I want DayLa Couture to be a company where we can be able to make people feel good. If you purchase anything from us you get a quote that's encouraging words. I feel like you can wear anything, but if you don't see yourself as beautiful, you don't see yourself as strong, confident - then whatever you wear is not gonna look good. It's how YOU wear it . It's in your confidence, in you how exude- what you exude." Although the company has only been around since 2013, Dayvonia was imagining herself designing way before.
"So I actually really love this story. I use to sketch clothing when I was younger in elementary school. I kind of lost track of that because I started dealing with self-esteem issues, I started trying to fit in with the crowd. I struggled a lot with insecurity and just trying to find who I was. Once I started building a relationship with Christ I definitely started accepting and coming into WHO I was and understanding WHOSE I was. Once I understood both of those dynamics, I started breaking away from the social norm of what people wanted from myself and trying to fit in with everyone. I starting creating my own [style] and learned it was okay to believe. When I learned that I was able to breath and I was able to just be free and actually stepped into full liberty. I started studying fashion, I started wearing crazy stuff in high school and different things that people said didn't go together but to me it was perfect. It was funny - I'll never forget - I had worn an outfit Friday at school and it was so weird, but I was comfortable. The next Monday there were three girls wearing that same outfit. It was so crazy. And that's when I realized fashion is what I wanted to do. I started doing hair shows, modeling for Marcus Doss in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I started being around fashion all the time and it wasn't until I actually joined the army that I actually wanted to start making clothes. When I got out of the military I started going to school (for nursing) and eventually I realized I was doing it for the wrong reason. I was just there for the money and that's not a reason you should do anything. I was already doing fashion shows on the side, so I just went full-fashion. I switched my degree to fashion design at the Art Institute of Charlotte."
Reyna Alicea: What was the first thing you designed?
Dayvonia Minnis:The first thing I ever designed was a skirt for one of my friends. She needed a skirt for a singing event she had to do for church. I had never sewn anything, like in my life, but I was determined to make this skirt for her. Surprisingly I was determined and I did the skirt. I had bought a sewing machine and I made the skirt for her. It was so funny, she wore it to the event, but she had to give it back to me the next day because it had come apart in the bathroom. But just the fact that I came through and I made that skirt for her.
Dayvonia admits she's come across challenges, but basic everyday challenges like shipping and customer problems aren't what she has trouble with. "One of the challenges that I've come across is myself. The challenges from outside I don't really consider challenges, it's kind of just part of the territory." What are these challenges that she's found within herself? "When I first started [it was] just having the drive. Sometimes we scare ourselves out of the place that God wants us to be because in our minds it's too big or we're not able to obtain those goals. You just have to have faith in yourself. It was a lot of self-doubt that I struggled with. Once I was able to put those self-doubts to the side and made up my mind that 'You know this is what God called me to do, this is what I want to do and I'm not gonna let anything or anyone stop me'."
Just because she doesn't identify outside challenges as challenges, it doesn't mean she hasn't found tips to help alleviate any trouble. "Planning. I was not a planner at all. I'm so sporadic and I'm a Taurus, I'm a true Taurus. We just like to do it, and we don't plan. I see it, I want to do it and get it done but then I have people around me like "No you have to plan this out because it's not going to go the way you want it to go if you don't have a plan". So the tip I would definitely give is to write it down. Write everything that you want to do down and then after you see everything written down, organize it in which will come first , second, third. That right there has definitely been a big help. Not to sound cliche, but my relationship with Christ, those moments that I feel overwhelmed and moments where I don't know if I can do this anymore, I just keep my mind focused on who gave me the vision. That's always just helped me through."
RA: What have you learned about yourself through this process?
DM: I learned that the places that I've seen myself in the past are obtainable and they're more than a dream. Like in visions of myself being a CEO and visions of myself being a household name in fashion, those things are not unobtainable. Those things can and will happen . And just being able to see my journey happening and unfolding in front of my eyes, realizing it's just those small steps. I think a lot of the times we see the big picture and we try to jump and we often fall when we do that. If we just focus on the steps in front of us, before we know it we look up and we've already passed the goal that we wanted and now we're already working on the second goal.
In five years Dayvonia want DayLa Couture to be featured in Paris Fashion Week. "That is my goal! I want to go to New York Fashion Week, all of that. I [also] really want to travel, just spreading DayLa Couture around."
Dayvonia has loads of entrepreneur, doctor, and military family members. "Whenever I said I wanted to be a designer, they were like "Girl, you know that doesn't make a lot of money". But it wasn't about the money, it was about doing what my heart said I needed to do." Although they didn't quite understand, I bet growing up around all of those smart minds rubbed a lot of knowledge off onto her.
As we all know, 2017 is a time of social media. Social media is the way we find out about new trends and the way we share our love for things. Social media is also the way to go to brand your business. "[I'm] learning that social media is a very dynamic and great tool in our time. I use to be on social media because I wanted to see people posting crazy stuff, now it's so detrimental. I'm on there for my business and once I finish that then I'm off working on the next social media post. Social media has been a very big tool for my business. And not even just that, word-of-mouth. Having people who purchase my garments posting them onto social media."
Speaking of her garments, sometimes Dayvonia doesn't even realize it's her's! "There's been times that I don't even realize that it's mine and I have to double take!" When she realizes it's her's, she's extremely happy. "It almost feels unreal. I thank God that I've learned to become super humble. It's very joyous, it's a blessing and I'm just so grateful and appreciative for everyone who supports me and wants me to create for them , I really appreciate them."
- x Reyna