World-renowned designer, Lenese Calleea, popularly known as Fashion Fairy Godmother has a great list of brands under her belt including: LC Apparrel Consulting, Black Girlz Fashion Club, and Calleea Vatein Inc. With over two decades in this industry, it’s clear to see how this young designer has made quite an imprint in the world of fashion. We caught up with Lenese to discuss her start in fashion, where her nickname comes from, and much more!
How did you get into the world of fashion?
I actually started sewing when I was a little girl. I was taught how to sew at seven-years-old. I was into creating things and began my entrepreneurship role in seventh grade when I created a pillow line. I made pillows for my friends, their families, and kept creating things throughout junior high and high school. In high school, I started drawing and making shirts. In college I majored in Fashion Design and started my own custom apparel business. I moved to New York in Fashion Management and Marketing. I began working in the industry and eventually started on my own!
Where did the nickname the Fashion Fairy Godmother come from?
My entrepreneurship role did start in design and creating my own clothing line. I found that my passion really lied in teaching, mentorship, training, and helping others. I started LC Aparrel Consulting – a fully Black-owned production company that helps designers create their product. We did sample making, manufacturing, we literally bring dreams to life. That’s what the Fairy Godmother does – she brings your dreams to life. We take the ideas out of your head and bring you with actual product. I actually got coined the name by one of my favorite clients, Keresse Dorcley, Designer of Six/20. I took her ideas and brought them to life. She sent me a review video and she called me a little Godmother. I heard that term often, she was one of the first to say it, but I heard it more and more. Our tagline for the business is that we bring your dreams to life. That’s how that name came about.
Tell us about the ‘Fashion Dreams to LIFE.’
Fashion Dreams to Life is our tag line because we offer so many different things. We offer training, services, and courses. We offer multiple services that cater to the needs of the person that is taking the class. They come to the class knowing what they want, and we help them make something or walk them through the process. All of the courses are one-on-one. We don’t offer group courses because we want the learning experience to be catered directly to the student. I feel like in higher education, people are taught general information. I know a lot of people that went to amazing design schools, yet they don’t know how to design anything. They may lack skillset and I believe that may be because they lacked the interest of certain areas of the business. When you have a caterized learning experience, you learn exactly what you want. You want to learn swimwear; we’ll teach you swimwear. If you want to learn evening wear, that’s what we’ll teach you. We’re bringing your dreams to life, just keeping it focused on directly what it is you want to learn. We do adult learning as well as for children as well.
What do you believe is the greatest lesson you’ve learned so far being in this industry?
Just to keep resilience by your side. You know, I think that in the fashion industry – when you’re African American, you are a minority. You may be the only Black person in your position or even in entrepreneurship. You’re overlooked. I think that being resilient, utilizing your resources, and keep pushing is what I’ve learned the most. I’ve been knocked down and failed several times but don’t be too hard on yourself. Picking yourself back up and find the solution. Stay solution-oriented and self-motivated. Those things will keep pushing you further along. Honestly, networking and utilizing the resources around you are important. Take account into the conversations you have because you never know how they may change your life.
What can we expect to see from you in 2021?
I plan on expanding LC Aparrel Consulting into LLC Manufacturing and opening a manufacturing facility as well. Right now, we’re doing a lot of outsourcing to companies in the United States, but I want to own my own. I recently dropped my handbag line and jumpsuit line so in 2021, on my birthday January 4th, I’ll be dropping my jacket line. On January 15th, I’ll be releasing my travel collection, so you’ll have duffels, bookbags, and everything you need when traveling. I have a podcast as well called Black in Fashion. We do Black in Fashion pop up events where we get a lot of different Black designers to do events. We’ll be doing those events every month, so you’ll see one in February for Black History Month, March for Women’s History Month, as well as April which is Black Fashion Month. You’ll see more growth from us and all of our different brands.