I was first introduced to 17 year old designer Aceani Michelle via Lynne Bartley from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in September of 2013 and since our initial introduction Aceani has become a source of inspiration and driving force behind everything that we do here at the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC. If we’ve ever had a single doubt about what we are doing and why, Aceani’s passion for the industry quickly helps us to refocus on our ultimate goals.
From the first email that she sent me giving me a full background of her work, to showing up and being hands on with just about every event that we have held since she joined our team, to every email that she has sent me always having an introduction of “Hi Ms. Caressa, It’s Aceani again…”. Her custom email signature that reads Teen Designer, Photographer, Stylist and Fashion Blogger, “Success has no age limit” aceanimichelle.blogspot.com” to bringing me, (DE-FI)’s Director of Beauty Lisa Scott owner of Beaute Box, and her very own mom to tears after a meeting last week when she realized just how talented and blessed she really is, and having a full understanding of just how much support that she has had, not just from her family, but (DE-FI) as well, I think that it’s pretty safe to say that Ms. Aceani is going places. I mean, after all, at just the tender age of 17 she’s already accomplished more in her career than most have done in a lifetime of trying, from attending Fashion Camp NYC, to presenting her fashion line to designer Lisa Perry and the Vice President of Coach Merchandising Fran Della Badia.
Aceani, with the overwhelming support of her family and backing of (DE-FI), is prepping for a what is certain to be huge and successful career in the Fashion Industry! She will be showcasing her very first line during our First Flight Now Fashion Vintage Couture Ball taking place Saturday May 10 at Commander Aero Airport. So it is with great honor and pride that I introduce such an amazing person, young lady, Fashion Designer, Wardrobe Stylist, Blogger, Photographer, and Youth Ambassador to the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI) LLC: Miss Aceani Michelle.
Q) How did you get your start in the fashion industry?
A) My love for fashion began a long time ago. In fourth grade I use to play around and illustrate different outfits for lines that were popular back then such as Baby Phat, Rocka Wear and Sean John. I found myself starting to play around with different trends and put together outfits that I would have never thought of before and then began illustrating outfit ideas. I was in my eighth grade year when I fell in love with fashion. I began studying Vogue, In Style, Seventeen, plus other magazines, blogs and different designers that I gravitated towards at the time. Freshman year I began to illustrate some designs of my own while I took my first stab at designing and began making custom clothing for my friends at school and family members. I started simple and over time as I gained more experience, I began to play around more. All that lead to where I am now as a designer.
Q) Who were your influences personally and professionally?
A) My biggest influence when I began designing was Betsey Johnson. I was in love with her crazy, but innovative shows. She loves to do cartwheels and wear bright colors and let’s face it, that would speak to any 14 year old girl. As I got older I began looking at the culture of the hip hop era of the late 80’s and early 90’s. I often pull inspiration from the people during that time. Professionally, I look to my mother and of course, Anna Wintour. I love the way they both carry themselves at all times, and know exactly what they want, and how they want it while handling business.
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) The biggest struggle I faced as an emerging designer is that I’m self-taught. A lot of times I’ve had ideas and was not able to complete them because I simply had no idea what I was doing. Now I am proud to say I have a sewing coach, Mrs. Linda Love, and I love her! I’ve learned so much already and I can now make just about anything I put my mind to! My only other real struggle was people around me. I’ve had a lot of people try to knock me down or make jokes about me being “too serious.” As I’ve grown, I’ve let go of many people. However, I thank them as well as the people who constantly send me good vibes because they have helped to push me forward in one way or another. I hope to consider A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance my big break. I have worked so hard to get to this position and hopefully this will show people that I am really going to go far and help me gain access to a broader audience.
Q) What has been your biggest challenge trying to get your start in the industry?
A) My biggest challenge in trying to get started in this industry is my age. I am only 17 years old and being this young has helped me in some ways, but hurt me in others. However, I never let anyone stop me or slow me down on my path to success. I have a quote which is, “No dream is too big, and no age is too small.” This really helps me to keep moving forward using full force because I feel as though I have so much to prove if I want to show the world that this quote is true. I may be young, but my dream is valid and I will not stop under any circumstances.
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) A lot of my friends believe that people in the industry seem stuck up, and they often ask how I deal with that. I have to debunk this one because honestly some of the most genuine and kindest people I’ve met are people in the fashion industry. I think they come off this way because of confidence and a lot of people don’t know what true confidence looks like anymore.
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 costumer is edgy and risky with an appreciation for fine arts, culture, and history. When people see my clothes I want them to imagine a suit with an urban architectural feel, or a dress that could give a history lesson on its own. Anything that is under Aceani Michelle has to tell a story. Almost as if you are reading a book attached to someone’s body. I want my collection to represent who I am as a person and what I love. Art, history, culture, and architecture.
Q) Why is it so important for Fashion to be embraced in smaller markets like Dayton, OH?
A) It is important for fashion to be embraced here because there are so many misconceptions about the industry especially in places like Dayton. There may be many people here who loves fashion, but know nothing about it so therefore their love dies and their dream is lost. We always associate fashion with the big cities, but there are so many talented and fashionable people right here in our little cities that need a voice and a platform to make it.
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 am most excited about showcasing my first collection during A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance! I am also excited to learn as much as I possibly can. I always tell people that I am a student first so I plan to take a lot of notes. I would also like to inspire at least one person. I want them to know If I can do it, so can they! Just have that burning passion and a lot of faith.
Q) What advice do you have for those seeking a career in fashion?
A) Fashion is a very competitive and risky industry. However, you have to put your big boy pants on and just go for it! Don’t allow anyone’s personal opinion to stop you from reaching your personal goal. Remember to stay true to yourself and never lose sight of where you want to go. Remain faithful, humble, hungry and determined and know that No dream is too big, and no age is too small!
Need we say more?? Aceani is just truly phenomenal and has so many people cheering her on and rooting for her. One of the main reasons that she brought myself and Lisa to tears last week was seeing how much support she has from her family at such a young age. Lisa and I both opened up to her about our missed opportunities and dreams that went unfulfilled because we didn’t have the support that we needed from family or a platform to practice and showcase what we loved. For me it was modeling, I had my first contract when I was 12 but at the same time my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and wasn’t able to dedicate the time that was needed to get me to casting calls and we couldn’t afford to travel to my agency for meetings and for Lisa it was attending Juilliard School of Performing Arts but as we both experienced and Aceani pointed out in her interview if we do not support local talent dreams fade away. But we are determined to not allow that to happen and to be the support system for others that we wish that we would have had in our lives when we lived, breathed, and dreamed about our passion.
For more information on how you can help make Aceani’s dreams come true when she debuts her first line during A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance May 9-10, or how you can help sponsor her work or win an internship with Anne Agoren in NYC please send all inquiries to [email protected]. You can also follow her blog at aceanimichelle.blogspot.com . 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. Tickets are also available online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-
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!! A Weekend of (DE-FI)ance is guaranteed to be more than a Fashion Show, it’s a #FashionExperience and we’re #TakingItToTheNextLevel #FirstFlightNowFashion.