When I was six years old my grandma taught me how to sew. My first project was a Native American powwow dress. This project was no easy task for a six-year-old. My Grandma was constantly by my side teaching me how to straight stitch and to guide the material along the machine. When we finished the dress, I felt proud of myself for being able to create something for myself. The next year my Mom enrolled me in a local 4-H club. I began to sew with other girls and boys in 4-H clothing workshops. I made an orange, snakeskin print, ruffled, short skirt and a yellow top for my clothing level 1 category. When I entered my outfit in the 4-H Style Review at the Harlan County Fair, I won Reserve Grand Champion Overall. To be honest, when they called my name, I didn't believe it. That was the moment I realized that I had a talent for something that was unique and different.
I continued to do sewing at the Harlan County Fair for another year and had to move to another state. I took a break of sewing for 4 years. It wasn't until we moved back to my hometown, Lincoln Nebraska, that I began to sew again. In 2013, I came across a black 90's cocktail dress in a local thrift store. This dress sparked my imagination of creating this form-fitting dress into a mermaid formal gown. I bought the dress and took it home. I added black tulle to the bottom of the dress to give it a mermaid effect and a clean look. When the dress was finished, I entered it into the Lancaster County 4-H Style Review under the up-cycled category. At the style review, my up-cycled garment received Grand Champion in its category. Now I wanted to take my sewing skills further.
In 2015, I created a mermaid gown out of a polyester, butterfly floral, print fabric. I chose a sweetheart neckline with a high top sleeveless allusion from ivory lace. This project was hard for me because this was my first complex garment that required a lot of skill and knowledge. My Grandma helped me along the way to interpret the pattern instructions to create the proper look. My dress was entered in the clothing level 3 category with the other older girls. At the 4-H Style Review, I won Grand Champion Overall and qualified for my garment be entered into the Nebraska State Fair. I was beyond happy with the turnout and knew that I was back on track. I went to the 2015 State Fair and received a purple ribbon for my modeling and garment work.
I could simply not stop thinking about what I would create next for the fair. I sketched every day and brainstormed for the idea for the next winning look. I then went shopping for fabric with an open mind. As I was walking around the fabric aisle I saw a woman carrying this fabric that I immediately had to have. She held a fabric bulk of ivory sheer polyester with 3-D ivory flowers sewn on to it with green leaves and vines. I was trying not to creepily stalk her but I patiently waited for her to go to the cutting counter to cut the fabric she needed. Once the bulk of fabric was placed in the bin, I grabbed it as fast as I could. I instantly fell in love with the fabric. With the material, I decided to make a two piece ivory floral ballgown. This dress took 4 weeks to complete. The skirt consisted of 33 yards of material with 7 layers. The hardest part was sewing the waistband onto the skirt and then attaching the zipper. The two-piece ballgown I made won Grand Champion Overall in the Lancaster County 4-H Style Review and qualified to go to the Nebraska State Fair. At the State Fair, my dress received a purple ribbon along with being chosen as the number 1 in the top 5 garments in the State 4-H Style Review. My dress was also chosen to be put on display at the Robert Hillestad Textile Gallery at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
After the Fair, I received a lot of publicity and people asking me if they would ever consider making them a custom dress. I talked with my parents and researched more information about contracts and sources for supply. I decided to launch my Em's Trends Custom Special Occasion Wear in October of 2016. I took 4 clients that agreed to sign the contract and go through the process of getting a custom dress for prom in the upcoming April season. In February of 2017, I was chosen to be apart of the Omaha Fashion Week 4-H Student Collection with my two piece ballgown. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other people interested in the fashion industry. In March of 2017, my dress was selected to be displayed at Nebraska's Scholastic Art Show in Omaha. I received a silver key in the Fashion category for my dress.
So far my journey with Em's Trends has been a success. My 4 clients dresses are finished for the prom season and are ready to be showcased. My small business is booming with growth and popularity. I have big plans for this year with many surprises ahead. I am also excited to begin college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln majoring in Textiles and Fashion Design in fall 2017. I have a dream someday to have a large business selling my special occasion garments all across the world. Even though that dream may not happen tomorrow, I know that to achieve it is through hard work, determination, and drive.