Mandarin Middle school student and budding fashion designer,Shylah Byrd-Smith discovered her passion in designing while putting togther styles form items in her closet.
After a chance meeting with Nicole Butler, creator of “The Designer Kids Program,” Shylah was able to take her skills to the next level. Local nonprofit Designer Kids teaches girls how to become fashion designers and how to bring their fashion ideas to a reality.
Participants commit to attend 6-8 week 90 minute sessions on Saturdays. Throughout the year , the studio can be filled with 10 to 20 girls who participate in the program. In the free classes the young ladies learn everything from practical sewing to style and design. A commencement is held at least twice a year, where all the girls get to display their designs in a fashion showcase.
Director Nicole became interested in fashion herself as a little girl, watching her mother create dresses for her and her sisters. When she was age 10, she tried her hands at operating the sewing machine and was excited to see that she could make an outfit on her own. Armed with a degree in fashion technology, Nicole’s passion is taking young girls under her wings and teaching them the basics of fashion design.
“I felt this was a need since home economics has been taken out of schools. I thinks it’s important for every girl to know how to sew a button on, repair a garment, hem a pair of pants or make a dress to save her parents some money,” said Butler.
Smith has been with The Designer Kids Project for three years and is currently creating her own signature clothing line. Her future dream is to have a boutique where girls that are less fortunate can come and acquire an outfit designed on a budget. She recently designed and completed a custom made prom dress for a student that deserved a beautiful dress for prom, but Covid-19 prevented that. Though the prom was canceled, the young designer worked to get the dress to the recipient and an impromptu photo shoot gave the young lady a reason to celebrate and to bring satisfying closure to the project. To learn more about the Designer Kids Project email Voicesofouryouth@yahoo.