Spreading the love with EVOLI’s Jahi Fitzgerald

When you ask emerging fashion designers about the start of their careers, their stories are very similar.  They range from getting an early start during youth to being discovered after pursuing a fashion design education.  During this interview, I want to share a different story.   I want to introduce to Jahi’ Fitzgerald of the label of Evoli by Jahi’.   His story includes its share of accomplishments, setbacks and inspiration from his family.  By the end of this piece I hope emerging designers and readers get inspired to continue to pursue their dreams despite being faced with potential obstacles.evoli

Me: Let’s begin by letting readers know a little more about your fashion brand.

Jahi Fitzgerald: EVOLI, the brand, is about elegance, class, style and longevity. It’s about how a woman expresses herself. My desire is to present women with timeless pieces that can be worn for years to come. EVOLI, the name is about vision, dreams, hopes and desires. It’s about love, family and my desire to create a legacy for my family. EVOLI is ILOVE spelled backwards and it encompasses the initials of my 4 sisters and my mom. The placement of each initial has a significant meaning as well:

E – Evelyn

V – Vivian

O – Olivia

L – Lillie (mom)

I – Ida

EVOLI by Jahi'5

EVOLI is not just a one-dimensional brand! The meaning and style of EVOLI is multifaceted and I intend to share it with the world.

Me: What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

Jahi Fitzgerald: I’ve always loved fashion. I can remember as a little boy back in my neighborhood, watching my sisters get dressed and how they would pass each other different garments to try on with other garments. They would try new things and come up with something that none of their friends would be wearing. I could honestly create collections from the things I saw on my own block. Everybody had a sense of style back in that neighborhood.

Designing is like breathing to me…literally and figuratively.

Me: Does EVOLI have a signature look, specific style or etc.?

Jahi Fitzgerald: I’ve thought about that myself. I would say, I’m big on details, buttons, sleeves and linings. My favorite eras are the 1930’s and 1940’s. I used to jokingly say that I was alive during those times.

Me: You used crowd funding to finance your upcoming Spring collection. What made you decide to pursue this method?
Jahi Fitzgerald: I wrestled with the crowd-funding idea for 3 years. I couldn’t decide which group to go with or what I would ask for. It felt weird to ask for money. Although, I had no investors and no major money to invest myself, something had to be done. I didn’t want to sit out another season without being involved. I had 3 friends who talked me into going this route and they pushed me to ask for the amounts that I did. As I said before, designing is like “breathing” for me. I finally decided to do it, and I thought of how I could give back. On the Go Fund Me campaign, I offer gifts back to all those who donate, but what I’ve also done is created some t-shirts that will be for sale soon, which will benefit two separate charitable organizations.

Me: Evoli has showcased at several fashion weeks. You also designed a 60th birthday gown for singer Chaka Khan. What would you say is your favorite moment & why?

Jahi Fitzgerald: I’ve showcased at NY Fashion Week (EMERGE Fashion Show), Presidential Inaugural Fashion Show in DC and in Connecticut with my first fashion show. I’ve also been featured on ABC Ch8 – CT Style. I have to say, the Chaka Khan opportunity was awesome. I think I was in another body when I did that. I still think about that night. Chaka Khan is an amazing person and was the first celebrated person I’ve had the pleasure of dressing. The favorite moment for me was when a coworker looked across my desk and saw one of my sketches – she wrote a check based on a sketch. She inspired me to do something I would never have imagined – “live my dream”!

Me: What advice would give to a fellow emerging designer from your experience so far?
Jahi Fitzgerald: I’m still learning myself and not sure how much I can influence anyone. I’d say, if designing is what’s in your heart of hearts, by all means keep pushing. Keep dreaming.

Lastly, how can people find out more about Evoli?
Jahi Fitzgerald: You can find EVOLI online  and on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterest,

Jahi Fitzgerald
Make sure to follow Evoli on the links above. Also, you can find a link to his GoFundMe here.

This article was written by our guest blogger Tamarah Brown. You can follow her on Tumblr and Twitter.                                   

Getting to know fashion designer Elizabeth Castellon

As I continue to highlight emerging fashion brands and designers I thought about who would be my next choice. I decided on Menswear and Womenswear designer Elizabeth Castellon. She also happens to be a fellow Academy of Art University alumni. After seeing her 2014 Fall Menswear collection during AAU’s runway show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week 2014  I decided to reach out to her. As a big fan of menswear her collection was one that stood out to me. I was fortunate to catch up with Elizabeth and asked her to share some of her designer journey.

Elizabeth Castellon Image ppearscourtesy of Fashion School Daily

As a designer of both womenswear and menswear which do you find to be more challenging?

Elizabeth Castellon: I find menswear to be more of a challenge, because there’s only so much you can design in menswear compared to womenswear. I think in womenswear you have more freedom to explore. With menswear you are limited, you have to follow the concept of functionality.

Fall 2014 Menswear lineup Image appear  courtesy of Fashion School Daily

Fall 2014 Menswear lineup
Image appear courtesy of Fashion School Daily

You presented your fall 2014 menswear collection at the Academy of Art University runway show during last year’s NYFW. How was that experience?

Elizabeth Castellon: It was a memorable experience. After working so hard on my collection for several months, then watching my designs go down the runway; and knowing that this experience was coming to an end was bittersweet.


Elizabeth Castellon Fall 2014 collection4

Elizabeth Castellon Fall 2014 collection2

Elizabeth Castellon Fall 2014 collection3

What is one thing you draw inspiration from when designing?

Elizabeth Castellon: I draw inspiration from photographs and images of what men wore during a specific time period. I examine the images and look at what the men were doing, their surroundings and their demeanor. From there I create a character, with a back story, that embodies the man of that time.  I use this character as a tool to help me focus my research for more inspirational images. When designing, this character and his story keeps me inspired and helps me to visualize my designs.

Do you have a signature design or style that identifies your brand?

Elizabeth Castellon: I would say my style is combining classic tailoring elements with sportswear.

What is some of the best advice you received during your career?  What is your advice for emerging designers?

Elizabeth Castellon: Someone once told me “We are our worst critics. Try not to second guess yourself.” When sketching I tend to think “does my design needs something more? Does it need something to make it interesting?” But I have to keep in mind not to over design; that simple, is ok. My advice for emerging designers is to trust your instincts.

Lastly, where can people get in touch with you?

Elizabeth Castellon: Email: My work is posted on Instagram at @castebycastellon.

This article was written by our guest blogger Tamarah Brown. You can follow her on Tumblr and Twitter. Elizabeth Castellon Fall 2014 Menswear Runway Images appear courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Image of Elizabeth Castellon is courtesy of Fashion School Daily.

When to hire a PR agency for your fashion brand?

        As an emerging  designer, you are responsible for everything that happens in your business.   As you gain customers, establish more contacts, and participate in more fashion weeks, you are probably considering if you should continue the work yourself or is it time to bring in a PR professional (consultant or agency).  I interviewed the industry’s experts to help you make the right PR choices.

For those of you who are leaning towards the idea of hiring a PR consultant and agency here is some advice.  I received feedback from image consultants to fashion designers who wanted to share their opinions on when is the appropriate time to hire PR representation.

The first tip comes from Robert Barrows president of R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations.

 “Emerging designers should hire both an advertising agency and a

PR  agency.

In many cases, there may not be a lot of PR opportunities for emerging

designers, and you can’t count on when or where they might run, or

what they might say. With advertising, you can say exactly what you want, when and where

you want it, depending on your budget.” – Robert Barrows

Tony Felice President of TFPR & Image Mgmt had this to say,

“What’s the difference between popularity and celebrity? Answer: Publicity. That being said, a new designer can’t afford a large agency. I’d recommend they find an  independent PR rep with industry experience and PROVEN media contacts.”

I also spoke with Emily Taffel  Founder/CEO of Mugsly PR  who suggested:

“Without a PR representative on their team, emerging designers  have the possibility of missing numerous editorial pieces, event and partnership opportunities, and connections to influencers and others that can help bring them into spotlight.”

Alicia Sanchez, designer of Favala and brander of Fashion Designer Business Academy offered her opinion from a designer and brander’s perspective:

  “If you’re a Brand, PR will be knocking on your doors. However, designers should have a budget for PR because no man is an island and Fashion is a Business! Designers must know first if they are a brand or another clothing line.”

The last piece of advice comes courtesy of Annette Szczepan who is a publicist and founder of AnetkaStarrPR.  Here is what she had to share:

“The fashion industry is oversaturated with designers trying to break into it and they need a good publicist or agency behind them, helping them to get noticed, talked about, worn, and connect them to the right people.  I think PR representation is necessary ,but ultimately, designers need to be prepared for what comes with hiring a PR agency so they are not wasting their time and money.”

Hopefully this expert advice will help put things in perspective before taking the plunge to hire a PR consultant or an agency.   Remember to do your research and have a plan in place, and choosing the best representations should be easy.


This article is written by guest writer Tamarah. Follow her on Twitter @TZB86

Are you looking for a new writing opportunity? Perhaps you have style tips that you would like to share with the world? We value new fashion trends and are always looking for talented guest bloggers. If you’re a blogger or writer, this is the place for you to get noticed. Can you see yourself as a part of our blogging team? Apply here!


Learn how to crowdfund your fashion business

Crowdfunding is now a popular alternative to traditional funding, but is it right for you and your fashion business?

Luevo has teamed up with Startup Fashion and put together a detailed and resourceful guide and workbook for fashion businesses interested in crowdfunding. It took us months and we accumulated hundreds of hours in research and in writing, but here it is available now to fashion entrepreneurs around the world.

The 77 page guide includes 7 chapters from how to choose the right platform, how to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign, how to market it and what to do once the campaign is over. To make things easier, we’ve also included templates, checklists, extra resources, budget tools and sample social media messaging. Basically, everything independent and emerging fashion brands need to know to successfully launch and manage their crowdfunding campaigns, on any platform of their choice.

Check out the table of contents!


Introduction to Crowdfunding
Is Crowdfunding Right for You?
Choosing Your Crowdfunding Platform
Preparing for Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Marketing Your Crowdfunding Campaign Before Your Launch
Marketing Your Live Crowdfunding Campaign
What to Do After your Campaign Has Closed

Tools and Bonus info:

Pre-Launch Campaign Checklist
Social Media Resources
Social Media Sample Posts
Email Templates
Project Budget Template
Fashion Industry Interviews
8 Tips for Positioning your Brand for Funding
12 Tips for Continued Business Success

If you’ve used our crowdfunding guide let us know how it helped you and your fashion business via Twitter. If you’d like to apply as a designer on our platform, please do so here, our platform is now open for any designers located in USA and in Canada.


Born Again Vintage stuns fashionistas at Fashion Week Brooklyn

An author, vintage expert and designer, Bridgett Artise is making waves in the fashion industry and her Spring/Summer 15 Born Again Vintage collection is just one of many successes she has seen. Her open attitude to different things has allowed her and her brand to expand and inspire others. Her career as a designer gives space for Artise to express her creativity. It is perfect as nothing binds her back from the freedom and space she has to create. Usually, it is just one component that Artise needs to birth a whole line made of numerous textures, prints, and colors. It seems that though her ideas are sporadic, there is a value to this spontaneity as the fresh appeal of her designs come organically and are produced masterfully.

“A turning point for me was receiving a phone call from New York Times about an article where I was deemed a vintage expert and about my teachings about this topic for my alma mater.”

Born Again Vintage

Called ‘born again’ vintage, the collection is centered on a theme of rebirth. Rebirth is at the essence of her brand as Artise’s design eyes continuously gain new understandings of the world around her and what her clothes should communicate. The lessons she has learnt and her persistent creativity come together to tell new stories each season.

Born Again Vintage has come a long way. It started after Artise’s hiatus from buying and spending time as a mother when one day she had an urge to create. Her productions received great responses though she never had any intentions of selling or making a business. These unexpected plans stumbled into her life and she hasn’t looked back since. We are so happy to see Born Again Vintage on the runway at Fashion Week Brooklyn, and we have the best selection of her Spring/Summer’15 designs here.