Entrepreneur, Seamstress, Decor Specialist and Kimono Slayer Lasonja Polk has been sewing and designing for over 40 years. The designer’s kimonos are trending and if you check out her site, you would know why. Chic, fashion-forward and culturally rich, Lasonja can stitch just about any piece of fabric into her breathtaking kimonos. Lasonja‘s love for sewing has been magically honed since she was a little girl. She was born overseas in Germany, her father was career military in the Airforce. They and moved to the states at the tender age of 4 years old. She explained to us in a brief interview, that she was a “career latchkey child” after her two older brothers moved out especially after her mom picked up a job and her parents got a divorce. Her creative mind lead to stitching patterns. From Germany to designing for spiritual leaders such as Sarah Roberts Jakes.
Who are your influences?
I did love Betsy Johnson, the boldness that she had with her designs. She was a free spirit… Icon Diana Ross especially when she was in the 1975 classic Mahogany and the Ebony Fashion Fair (1958-2009).
How did you develop your skills and talents for sewing?
My mom sewed; she loves to sew. I developed a love for sewing and I would hone in on my construction skills. I started off sewing doll clothes on my mom’s machine when I was really supposed to be doing homework at 9 years old. My mother says she really started sewing every day once she had me. I’ve been surrounded by sewing since I was in the womb. I can go into the fabric store and literally spend 24 hours in there. When my family moved to the states we were in Alabama and then I moved to California in the early 80s where there were a lot of fluorescent colors and you had MTV, Cyndi Lauper and other artists wearing big and bright colors. I later went on to study at Lee College in Baytown (Fashion & Merchandising) and Texas Sothern University (Consumer Science) and my instructor was extremely hard on me, I didn’t like her at first but I’m thankful now.
Who have you designed for?
In the early ’90s, I designed for entertainers, professional boxing trunks for Reggie Sweet Johnson and recently celebrity fashion designer, J. Bolin brought a few pieces to Pastor Sarah J. Roberts. Pastor Roberts gave a good message and it was even more fitting that she wore one of my pieces. She ended up keeping all six pieces. I was excited. I also teach sewing from drapes to baby clothes. I enjoy silk, cotton, paint and I draw as well. I have an eye for art, mixed media, and customization.
How should the kimonos be worn and is there a season for it?
Wearing one of my kimonos you have to truly be sure of yourself. I tell my clients to just trust me when wearing one of my kimonos, one who doesn’t mind standing out in a room. Kimonos can be worn with leggings, a cute T-shirt, jeans, a tank top, slack, heels, and even shorts. Every season is for kimonos.
Name one of your most memorable customizations.
It was when my good friend was getting ready to have a baby and her husband worked for UPS. I ended up doing a baby size UPS uniform. Her husband passed. The gift became that much extremely special.
What does designing mean to you?
When designing, the art awakens the spirit in you, as an artist as well. It’s a ministry trying to educate your art, there is a career in this.
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All Images:5th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting & Kwanzaa Celebration on December 8th Presented by MeloDrama and City Councilman Dwight A Boykins