Black Futures: Fashion student creates clothing line for Black women
Throughout February, George Brown College celebrates Black Futures Month. We're highlighting GBC students, employees and graduates who make meaningful changes today with an eye on the future.
George Brown College (GBC) fashion student Dominique Davis wants Black women to feel comfortable expressing themselves through clothing in any situation. Her brand and e-commerce store STYLEFINDS aims to provide options for the office or any occasion and increase Black women's representation in luxury fashion and accessories.
Davis, a second-year student in the Fashion Techniques and Design program, created a collection to address the pressure Black women feel to code switch (changing how you present yourself or act to fit in with white or Eurocentric norms). The STYLEFINDS Code Switch Collection features dresses, sets, blouses and accessories.
"As a Black woman going to banks to get funding, you have to present yourself in a certain way for people to take you seriously," Davis said.
"With the Code Switch Collection, you can go from where you are with close friends who look like you into a space where maybe you're the only Black person in the room and still be authentic and still be who you are. That's what I want to communicate with the brand."
And in terms of luxury, Davis says she's offering quality construction, fabrics, and brand values that reflect those of her customers.
"Black women want to shop with a brand that they know stands behind their values. I think it's an all-around experience," she said. "That's luxury to me."
Building a brand
A self-taught sewer, Davis started altering thrift store finds. From there, she began offering alterations and custom-designed dresses. She enrolled at George Brown to learn about the manufacturing side of the fashion industry and take her business to the next level.
She has showcased STYLEFINDS at entrepreneur pitch competitions around Ontario, including GBC's PitchIt! Competition in November, where she placed fourth. The college's entrepreneurial hub, startGBC, hosts the event.
"In the beginning, I ran the business more as a hobby. I wasn't breaking even a lot of the time," she said. "Before going to George Brown, I didn't know that pitch competitions were a thing. I didn't know you could get grants to run your business. So being introduced to Neal Lilliot at startGBC was pivotal."
While e-commerce is essential to the STYLEFINDS business, Davis also works on retail distribution opportunities.
Aiming to become an employer
When asked what designers and brands she admires most, Davis highlighted GBC Fashion Techniques and Design grad (2019) Emefa Kuadey's successful fashion brand ISRAELLA KOBLA. Kuadey recently won The Bay's Fashion Fund award, an initiative that supports emerging BIPOC designers in Canada.
Davis hopes to add STYLEFINDS employees in the future.
"It would be great for my business to employ other people," she said. "A milestone for me would be to bring in enough revenue to do a community give-back program."
Learn more about STYLEFINDS at officialstylefinds.com.