Bringing Victorian To The 21st Century

Written by Ajaé Lawson-Allen

Edited by Mel Williams

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My name is Ajaé Lawson-Allen, and I was born in Oklahoma. Life growing up with my family was something most kids dream of. I come from a big family of seven, with three sisters and my twin brother. They are always so loving and supportive. I don’t have one bad childhood memory, and it’s all because my parents taught us to cherish each other. Now I am married to my wonderful husband, Bryce Allen, and I could not have asked for a better support system in him and my family. I am currently enrolled at the Art Institute of Charlotte, where I’m finishing out my fifth quarter. I’ll be getting ready for graduation in January and debuting my second collection.

I started designing when I was 8-years-old. I can remember my oldest sister, Ayenna, showing me how to draw this asymmetric shirt with flare pants. I remember drawing that same outfit over and over again, just using different colors. I also remember my younger sisters, Amari, Alajah, and I would dress our Barbie’s with potato chip bags and rubber bands.

Thinking back on it now it was horrible, but that started my love for fashion! My inspiration comes from the 19th-century, Victorian Age. I absolutely love the fashion from that time! All the bustles and corsets, all the hats, jackets, and dresses. My plan for ADD (Ajaé’s Divine Designs) is to modernize the 19th-century and bring Victorian fashion to the 21st-century with a twist.

The first, biggest highlight of my journey as a designer occurred when I designed my oldest sister’s senior prom dress. It was zebra and pink with a detachable train. I was so excited. As soon as the designer we paid to make it came through the door with it I just wanted to cry. Although I didn’t make it, it’s still a moment I will always remember; my first design that came to life. I began to do little projects on my own. Making a pillow and blanket in Home Economics class my 8th-grade year in middle school. I once even took a pair of my favorite jeans, ripped them and made shorts. My mother taught me the basics I needed to know to get started on the sewing machine. My family always believed that fashion is what I wanted to do, but I think that it was through all the little projects that they started to see my love and passion for it.

Another highlight was being apart of the 2016 NC Fashion Week. I was so blessed to be a designer in the show. I was able to design and create seven original designs to complete my first collection for ADD.

A lesson I’ve learned well on my journey is to keep God first in everything I do, and I will be blessed. My parents always taught me that. Even though sometimes I doubted, God has always showed up and showed out. In high school, I took French for a year and a half. Although I didn’t learn or memorize as much as I wanted to, I did take from it my favorite quote: “Je Pense Donc Je Suis” by René Descartes, which means, “I think, therefore I am.” Sometimes when I want to give up, or I feel like all the hard work is for nothing, I think of this quote, and I repeat it to myself over and over again. Then I get back to work.

What I love most about being a young woman on the verge of starting my own design label is the look on everyone’s faces. I am touched by the expressions my family and loved ones give me when I create something great. I also enjoying seeing the looks on faces of the ones who tried to put me down; trying to steer me onto other paths or careers that would allow me to be “more productive,” instead of supporting me and my dream. Proving them wrong, allowing them to see the talent I have; that is one of the best feelings ever!

Now I’m in the process of getting my website and business Instagram and Facebook up and running. But I’m completely open for anyone that would like to contact me via my email at ajaelawson96@gmail.com.

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