I wouldn’t call myself modest. Quite frankly, I am probably the polar opposite. One thing I have always ben able to do, is respect other’s opinions and their decisions around fashion. Growing up between Berkeley, where the general style of the locals is frumpy-glam, worn with confidence and Oakland, where people did as they pleased was such a testament to who I am today.
My father had an Art Gallery in Oakland, where I would spend many afternoons sitting in the back office listening to Jazz while drawing and painting to my hearts content. My life was centered around quality food, free form art education, and an abundance of intelligent people. My passion was design, and I was obsessed with the unfiltered European magazines my mom would bring back from her travels in Europe. As a young girl, my mom always perused the house in elegant lingerie sets from Paris and Italy, with beautiful designs and delicate seams. She would hand wash them or put them in the wash on a delicate cycle, and I would enjoy watching them line dry around the home.
I always had a love for sketching, and I began sketching my designs as early as I can remember. Keeping my designs secretive and holding them close, I spent the next two decades watching original creations become household styles. I felt jaded, as if they were my own and did not fully understand that ideas can be universal. There was always a quirky uniqueness to my craft that I saw and understood as “talent”. Around 12 years old, after attending CCAC for an Art Summer Intensive, I had a “sexy fashion show” with a childhood friend. We confidently wrapped scarves around our waists and strutted in her grandmother’s living room with our fashioned styles. I was certain that fashion was going to be a large part of my life, and that it would help me travel the world, along with my many exotic pets and my music career.
Fast forward a decade. As a young adult, my mom always had a selection of dresses in her closet for when I came over and was not properly dressed for whatever occasion or event we were headed to. I do recall my disdain for this, however, now as a formidable adult I understand this is due to presentation being such an important aspect of the African American community. For generations, it has been passed down that presentation is the most important aspect of co-existing in the world. It was the difference between getting a job and not, for being seen, for earning respect. Now we live in a time where we can wear our hair as we please, and dress as we wish. I feel lucky to live in this version of our world.
In 2009, I studied Apparel Design and Merchandising with a dedication to releasing multiple lines. My goal was to have an Avant-Garde Haute Couture collection and a Childrenswear collection. My favorite course was pattern drafting (and the only one that didn’t make me have tearful meltdowns), as I loved the freedom of sketching a creation made up from my mind in 2-D, sewing it up, and watching it come to full form. I was so ambitious, and I always struggled to finish as my ideas were very intimidating to execute, choosing brocades, silks, and velvets, not paired to my novice sewing skills and the fact that I was slow to sew anything (thank you perfectionism). Although I started with a focus on Avant-Garde meets Vintage Era’s, I was a new young mother at the time and loved dressing my daughter in sweet dresses. Bambini Del Mare was just a thought in the back of my mind, and it was not until late 2010 that I started hand drafting some pieces I eventually would be offering to the sewing community today.
I started selling on Etsy in Fall of 2010. Although I was not making enough money to pay for our basic necessities, I was determined to make my creative business work, after all, it was my dream. Every time our rent payment was due I would panic and wonder how I would make ends meet, picking up odd jobs and catering gigs.
As a newly single mother, I was faced with a difficult decision between my passion and taking a 9-5 job. My child was dependent on me, and I was not in any position to be a dreamer and pursue a creative career. Due to life circumstances, I had to stop my dream. There was no extra energy to work on my creative career after my day job. That is a myth in my mind, as when you have a toddler, a chaotic life situation you are trying to navigate, and work, that is about all that can be handled.
For years, I was devastated for the loss of my childhood dream, and would cry after my daughter went to sleep. I felt so strongly that the arts were my calling, and becoming a nomad with my child was not an option. I took an office job and provided a stable home for my child, worked my way up the ladder, and eventually started my own bookkeeping business. Once starting my own business, I gave myself two years to grow it, and promised myself the moment I hit six figures, I would switch my focus back into my creative pursuits full time.
My story is a testament to the fact that it is never too late to start something you love as a career, and it is never too late to re-start if life has placed it on an extended pause, as my life has shown me.
As a Global citizen, my goal is to bring my community together and create wearable pieces that can be cherished heirlooms and passed down from generation to generation. Eco conscious, I strive to use deadstock fabric, old sheets from thrift shops, and upcycle mens shirts and dresses for refashioned two-piece sets. I am a zero waste warrior, and I strive to create and use alternatives around the home to decrease my waste. Contributing by creating slow fashion pieces brings me an abundance of joy.
My patterns are not for the faint of heart, but I also don’t think they are intimidating. My goal is for you to have creative staples that wow those around you, and make you feel like hot stuff. I hope you will join me on my journey and enjoy creating with Bambini Del Mare.
Cheers to creating and new ideas,