What can I say about Sonya Mills? Well, for starters I can say that she has been one of the voices that have helped to shape the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC into what it is today. In the early stages of (DE-FI) long before we had a name…months after I stepped down from DFW; I remember sitting out on the patio of De’Lish Café along with Sonya, her mother (DE-FI) Designer Brenda Marone, and (DE-FI) Advisory Board and Steering Committee Ed Dixon discussing what the next step should be in terms of what the next step should be to get a strong fashion movement going in Dayton.
It was Sonya who first shared with me the struggles that she faced as an emerging designer, as we continue to learn more about the Fashion Industry and grow as an organization, I think that is fair to credit Sonya with the idea of creating the Art of (DE-FI)ance Fashion Fund which will be launched during A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance May 9th-10th. The Fashion Fund will be used to help designers purchase materials such as fabrics to produce their lines, pay entrance fees into influential Fashion Weeks that will put them in front of buyers, as well as helping to pay for some travel expenses!!
As with each of the designers that are showcasing during A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance, we asked each of them the exact same questions in an attempt to not only introduce them to you but to help everyone have a better understanding of why supporting our local talent and providing a platform for them to showcase their work is important to the success and future of Dayton. So I take much pride in introducing (DE-FI) Designer and Co-Founder of the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC Sonya Mills–
Q) How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
A) I guess it was a mid-life crisis. I have dabbled off and on with sewing, crochet, and designing, but had never seriously pursued that dream until I turned 40. I just made up my mind and started doing small local shows.
Q) Who were your influences personally and professionally?
A) Personally my Mom Brenda Marone of B. Marie Fashions is my influence. She did many shows in the 80’s using African textiles with American styles, and I guess it rubbed off. Professionally I see myself as a Black Betsy Johnson. I make clothes for the young and young at heart.
Q) What were some of the struggles you faced as an emerging designer and what do you consider to be your “Big Break” that took you from being an emerging designer to an established designer?
A) My main struggle is always financing. I still feel like I am emerging even though I did Mid-West and Plitz’s Fashion Weeks last year.
Q) What has been your biggest challenge trying to get your start in the industry?
A) It is a challenge to find backing and make people understand that everything they see is for sale. We want to clothe you.
Q) There are so many misconceptions about what the Fashion Industry is or what it represents, if there was one myth about the fashion industry that you could debunk what would it be and why?
A) Showing in New York does not make you an overnight success.
Q) Who is your target market, and when people think of your brand what is the image that you want people to see or represent??
A) My target market has just recently changed, or should I say, I finally owned it. I started making clothes for women, but more people have asked for children’s wear. Now I would say my target is Infants to Teens.
Q) Why is it so important for Fashion to be embraced in smaller markets like Dayton, OH?
A) I think fashion should be embraced here because Dayton has so much talent.
Q) What are you most excited about in terms of your participation in A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance and what are you hoping to get out of this experience?
A) I hope to get clients. I will be showing Children’s day wear and Teen evening wear.
Q) What advice do you have for those seeking a career in fashion?
A) I always tell people to go for their dreams. Don’t wait until you’re 40 like I did. But even if you do start late, know that your talent and will can take you far.
For more information on how you can purchase a custom made dress by Sonya Mills and Kerapa, please send all inquiries to [email protected] You can also see her work first hand at during A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance by purchasing your tickets today at Salon J Ladner located at 37 S. St.Clair St., Dayton, OH 45402, American Pi Dayton located at 39. S. St. Clair St., Dayton, OH 45402 Beaute Box located 116 W. 5th St., Dayton OH, 45402, American Pi Lebanon located at 748 E. Columbus Ave., Lebanon OH. You can also purchase your tickets online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-weekend-of-de-fiance-first-flight-now-fashion-vintage-couture-ball-tickets-10948422025. For VIP Tickets http://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-weekend-of-de-fiance-first-flight-now-fashion-vintage-couture-ball-vip-seating-tickets-10948458133 NOTE: VIP Tickets included premium seating, Swag bags, and a complimentary drink.
For more information on the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC or how you or your company can be a part of this ground breaking event, text “DEFI” to 55469. We are currently looking for volunteers, Makeup Artist, and Hair Stylist to help with production. Also, if you would like to become a sponsor or take out an ad in (DE-FI)ance Magazine we have affordable packages available that start as low as $35!! We’re #TakingItToTheNextLevel #FirstFlightNowFashion.