I’m Michigan born and bread…. I prefer Better Made potato chips, it’s pop, not soda, and when I say “let’s go to the beach,” I mean Lake Michigan, not the ocean. On May 30, 1987 I made my grand entrance on a hot Memorial Day in Port Huron. A small dot on the map of Michigan that no one has ever heard of. My entire family lived there and it was pretty awesome growing up where everyone knew you. When I was 5 my mom, and my brother and I moved to Detroit and then eventually to Grand Rapids with my step-father not to too long after I’d turned 12.
Moving from city to city wasn’t the easiest to deal with. Especially when it came to going to new schools and constantly trying to make new friends. Being creative was my escape from a life of not fitting in. I spent a lot of time with my mom who I like to think of as the black Martha Stewart. (She prefers Shell Diddy!) My mom was the DIY queen before DIY was popular. She can create home décor you’d buy in a store, bake anything you could fix a sweet tooth too, and sew like dressmaker… she taught me everything I know.
I immediately took to sewing and it became one of my favorite pastimes. I can remember my first big sewing project like it was yesterday. I was around 14 and wanted to redecorate my current childhood bedroom. I had sewn a bunch of candy shaped pillows for my bed. I can’t remember a moment where I was more proud of myself! That is where my true love for sewing evolved.
Going shopping with my mom was something I truly enjoyed. I have always admired her style. She taught me about fashion, how quality is more important than quantity, and those dos and do not(s) of what to wear, what not to wear or when to wear it. At some point shopping for myself became disappointing. I would always have extravagant ideas of what I wanted to wear in my head. While shopping, more often than not, I couldn’t recreate the look I wanted. So… I began altering and making the clothes from my imagination.
During my 20s I studied at both Grand Rapids Community College and Davenport University. I also got married and become the mother of two amazing boys. Throughout it all, sewing remained my hobby until I launched Bèl Rèn Couture Clothing, LLC in 2016. I had turned my hobby into my business.
I decided to share my services and experiences with other women. Wearing garments made exclusively for me, by me, boosted my confidence and self esteem. Eventually, it became possible for me to to follow my dreams in fashion design. I was finally expressing who I was. My designs made me feel comfortably beautiful and completely changed the way I saw myself. Starting my business is the catalyst for me to share those experiences of confidence and self love with other women.
You only get one life! I’m choosing to live mine doing what I love and living in my purpose. I’m hoping that I can get to a place to inspire others to live purposefully too.