EMERGE 2

BRANDY LEE / BIG SISTER

Brandy Lee is the creative head at Big Sister. She has a BFA in Theatre and is mostly a self-taught seamstress and designer. She has over ten years of professional  experience in alterations, custom clothing, costumes, bridalwear, and vintage.

Big Sister is a Fashion Design Studio that creates one of a kind clothing for Women and Men. Brandy started Big Sister in 2017 in Austin, TX, but relocated to  Fayetteville, AR in October of 2018. Brandy individually designs and handcrafts each piece. The attention to detail and highly skilled craftsmanship can be seen in every garment. Big Sister offers a range of styles for a range of expressive possibilities. It’s clothing that looks great, feels good to wear, and is quality made.

DESIGNER COHORT

Our Designer Cohort is made of 5 up-and-coming designers from the Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Their participation in the EMERGE program consists of one on one sessions with Designer in Residence, Brandy Lee, as well as group sessions every month with the Emerge Mentors. They participated in group critique sessions, as well as marketing training, and brand consultation. Their final project is an entrepreneurial project pitch in the Fall of 2021 to determine whether their collections are viable for manufacturing.

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CRYSTAL HAMILTON

Fashion designer Crystal Hamilton is the epitome of a woman living her dreams. Crystal’s Spring/ Summer 2019 collection “Crystal La’Shay ” made its debut in 2018 at New York Fashion Week. “Crystal La’Shay” is a vibrant ready-to-wear women’s clothing line.

Crystal is an Arkansas native who resides in Texarkana, Arkansas. She has been an Early Childhood educator for over 13 years, adults and kids sewing instructor at Texarkana College, youth mentor, and hairstylist.

Crystal studied fashion design at the Arkansas Fashion School. Crystal continues to design off-the-runway looks that are bold and fresh.

LaTasha Cobler

LaTasha “Madame L” Cobler is an American designer and her namesake womenswear label’s current creative director. ‘Madame L’ is a line of sustainable and artisanal handcrafted womenswear alongside accessories born from a passion and dedication to create designs that nourish and highlight the modern indomitable woman’s spirit, empowering her, elevating her, and supporting her through her everyday journey. Each creation is exquisitely crafted, fusing artisanal techniques and carefully curated fabrics celebrating feminine spirit and individuality.

After winning the 2019 International Design Award for her Haute Couture and runway designs, LaTasha’s design career had successfully launched on the international scene. Her latest accomplishment includes the launch of her women’s handbag and accessory collection, featuring limited edition designs found exclusively in her online boutique at madamel.com.

A'leyce Rodgers

A’LYECE LENAE

A’Lyece’ Rodgers is a fashion apparel and accessories designer. Though she has lived the majority of her life in the state of Arkansas, she is a Minnesota native.  As a child, she knew very early on that I wanted to be nothing other than a fashion designer, and  spent countless hours designing and sewing different looks for her dolls.

In 2017, she opened her own design studio; ALyece Lenae Designs. They specialize in women’s made to measure clothing and made to order accessories. Throughout her brand you will find unique attire, to fit the body and make a statement. A’Lyece’s slogan is “Where Beauty Meets Fashion,” because at ‘ALyece Lenae’ they believe their fashions give clients the autonomy of their beauty.

Elizabeth Koerner

ELIZABETH KOERNER

Elizabeth Koerner describes herself as an avid creative and a continuous learner. She began her designing journey at the young age of nine-years-old. She later studied fashion design and business in college and would go on to own both fashion and interior design businesses.

Elizabeth’s goals are to grow as a person and a designer. She is also inspired by nature, beauty, fabrics, and art. In her career she remains curious and excited about her future, while being constantly driven by her love of God, people, and design.

Shamirra Clark

Shamirra Danielle, a Little Rock native, has always had a love for creating from an early age. She went to a fine arts high school and studio art was her concentration. Shamirra also minored in studio art in college. When she was 15 years old, her mom enrolled her in sewing classes and her grandmother bought her a sewing machine. During college, she took more serious classes in sewing and construction, at the Jamileh Kamran School of fashion design.

Shamirra would describe her design style as free-spirited, fearless, fun, uninhibited, and more. Richie Clark clothing is designed exclusively by Shamirra Danielle. As an artist and designer, Shamirra draws inspiration from her surroundings and through her vision of the future of fashion. She is youthful and modern whilst keeping a woman’s sensuality at the heart of each product. The Richie Clark client knows who she is and is not afraid to show it. Never the wallflower, ever the free-spirit, Richie Clark ladies leave their mark everywhere they go.

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Hello,  I’m Darcy and was born and raised in Fayetteville Arkansas. I am a self taught seamstress and I have been sewing for over 15 years. Originally I started working for a few local theaters and dance groups making costumes. In 2014 I started my kids clothing line “Darwin and Delilah”.  Then in 2017 I opened “Crimson and Clover” a vintage and handmade clothing shop in south Fayetteville. 

Currently I live in Prairie Grove with my sweet husband and four incredible children. I have always had a strong interest in fashion and design. Most of my pieces are vintage inspired and I often use vintage and upcycled materials to create them. I love incorporating embroidery and appliqué into my work and I always strive to come up with something fun and unique!

MEET THE MENTORS

Our program mentors are carefully vetted, interviewed and selected based on a number of criteria including their industry expertise, career experience, willingness to collaborate and enthusiasm for teaching. During the selection process we mindfully consider the educational needs of our designers, evaluating what areas they seek to grow and refine and do our best to match their needs with the right mentors.

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NANCY FELL

Nancy Fell grew up in New Jersey and always had an interest in fashion. She decided to pursue that as a career and attended Montclair State University majoring in Fashion Studies. She wasn’t sure what exactly she wanted to do within the fashion industry until interning at DKNY in the Product Development and Production department for handbags and small leather goods, and she immediately knew this is what she wanted to do. Nancy has over 20 years of experience in the industry, having worked at Kate Spade, Milly, Cole Haan, Ann Taylor and Wathne, after having spent 5 years at DKNY. In addition to doing Product Development and Production, she also did Merchandising while at Milly. Throughout her career, product categories expanded to also working on jewelry, tech cases, diaper bags, belts, candles, hats, and desk accessories, with a number of these being new product launches. Nancy is currently a Product Development and Production Consultant and also a Professional Development volunteer for the School of Fashion at Kent State University in New York City, serving as an ongoing resource to help students prepare to enter the workforce.

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TELICIA BUNCH

Originating from Galesburg, a small town in Illinois, Telicia would play dress up or make caftans for her Barbies out of fabric scraps or even tissues as a child. It was natural for her to get a degree in fashion. She studied at Iowa State University, graduating with a B.S. in Apparel Merchandising, Design Production. During her schooling, she did an internship in Merchandising with Joslin Department store in Denver, Colorado. She quickly discovered that was not the route for her. After speaking with an ISU alumnus who was working as a Technical Designer in New York, she knew this was the career path that was right for her. She moved to New York upon graduation, securing an internship at Gap Inc., which then led to a full-time position and the start of her career. Telicia Bunch brings over 20 years of experience working as a Technical Designer for Gap, J Crew, Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren, Martin and Osa, DVF, Kenneth Cole, and Draper James. She is a well-rounded Technical Designer who has worked across multiple commodities gaining knowledge of fit and construction for knitwear, sweaters, swim, woven, and denim throughout her career. She has worked with Domestic and Overseas factories throughout her career by creating processes to ensure proper fit and construction standards will be for the company. She is very excited to share her knowledge and experience with aspiring designers. After Milly, Kerry spent two years at Draper James, a lifestyle collection founded by Reese Witherspoon, joining their team to launch the wholesale division. Kerry is currently the Chief Merchant at EGG New York, an affordable luxury children's wear brand based in New York City. Additionally, Kerry founded her consulting business in 2020, Bakerry Brands, offering wholesale and merchandising consulting for emerging and established brands that need guidance for success.

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SUBBU SISTA

Over 30+ years of experience in the Apparel and Textile industry; 15 years in the Walmart Headquarters established in various management positions for apparel and home textiles sourcing, technical design, quality control, safety and compliance, reverse logistics, and supply chain optimization. Planned and successfully instituted various apparel manufacturing projects in Europe, Australia, Indonesia, East and Central Africa, as well as the region of Southern Africa. Created thousands of jobs in the apparel/textile industry over the past 15+ years. Have traveled extensively in Asia and Southeast Asian (e.g., Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, etc.) Europe, Central America, Africa, and the Middle East to identify appropriate supplied for reputed retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Walmart. Responsible for supplier evaluation along the lines of capacity, capability, training, and quality certification.

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DR. CASH ACREY

Cash Acrey, Ph.D., is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Finance and the Managing Director of the MSc in Finance program at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. He teaches courses in entrepreneurial finance, financial modeling, financial analysis, corporate finance, financial markets and institutions, international finance, investments, data analysis, and an honors version of principles of finance. His current research interests include capital flows for entrepreneurs in the state of Arkansas, impact investment, and socially responsible investment. Cash's experience in industry includes roles as a financial analyst, a business analyst, a consultant, a project manager, a web developer, and an inventory manager. Cash recently served on the board of directors of the Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum as Board Treasurer, and performed consulting work in event management, financial modeling, and operations support for NWA Fashion Week.

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LEAH YANEZ

I am a passionate, results-driven marketer who helps brands connect with their customers through omnichannel marketing campaigns. For the past 10 years, I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies to create thoughtful, integrated digital experiences including everything from brand development to social media campaigns. Currently, I am a Product Strategist at Razorfish, part of Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s largest interactive agencies. When I’m not working, I love to hike, explore and travel. I also lead a group of teenage girls through outdoor adventure programs as a mentor with Explore Austin.