She keeps two notebooks by her bed. As thoughts and ideas make their way into her dreams, she awakes, rolls over to jot them down and goes back to sleep – and possibly dream some more. By morning, as the alarm clock goes off and sleepy eyes open, she glances in her notebook and inspiration is born. Designer Kenya Freeman, of the label Sylvia Mollie, is literally living her dream. Kenya seeks inspiration from everything and everyone. If it’s not coming in her dreams then she finds it in nature, in her surroundings and on the street. Her mind is always wandering and conceptualizing.
Kenya didn’t know she was a designer right away. In the twelfth grade, she signed up for a fashion co-op class where she learned to create mood boards and studied merchandising. This came to Kenya with such ease that her mother enrolled her in fashion school. In her first year in college, she started sewing, watching her designs transform from sketches to garments. Everything felt so effortless. For the first time, Kenya felt like she had been given a gift. She felt like a designer. There is a lot to be said about a mother’s intuition.
Photos by Prince Williams/ATLpics.net courtesy of Ragtrade Atlanta.
Strong lines and architectural patterns are things Kenya embraces in her designs and textile choices. Other elements such as shape and texture – the feel and touch of fabric is very important to her – also play a part in the DNA makeup of the brand. Her aesthetic comes from the allure of the classic woman. So who is the Sylvia Mollie “woman?” Well, firstly, she has a name, Kenya calls her “Tony.” “This is a powerhouse of a woman whose classic looks must transition to evening. Everything she wears has to be bold, beautiful and make a statement,” adds Kenya. Flowing fabric and a feminine sensibility, with a conscious attention to silhouette, perfectly balance the brand’s timeless yet modern approach. Strength and femininity are harmoniously woven together within the Sylvia Mollie collections.
So while Kenya Freeman may be living her designer dreams, it is also fair to say that her future is now – and it’s unfolding on national television for the whole world to see. Her personal life and professional career was uprooted, tested and turned upside down – in the name of fashion– when she was selected as a cast member to the Emmy Award winning Project Runway on Lifetime TV. Kenya is featured on the sixteenth season of Project Runway and said this was the best experience ever. She believes that being on the show will elevate the Sylvia Mollie brand to the next level from the tremendous exposure she receives week after week and though it wasn’t always easy being on the show and working under so much pressure, she absolutely “made it work!” Speaking of “making it work” Tim Gunn is wonderful according to Kenya, going on to say that the warm and nurturing gentleman you see on tv is consistent off air as well. Of course, she was tight-lipped about Project Runway specifics, not able to discuss how far she got in the show or who were the celebrity judges. She wouldn’t even drop hints. This is how Kenya described her Project Runway experience: “It was so many things – it was great, it was emotionally draining, it was fantastic, it was exciting and stressful, I’ve never absorbed so much caffeine, I’ve never gotten up so early - it was a lot of things. A very unique experience like no other and just to say that I am now a part of the Project Runway family at this point is something few can say.”
Kenya Freeman and her label Sylvia Mollie may very well be on their way to designer stardom and making its way to a closet near you. Kenya aspires to see her brand carried in the high end markets such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf’s but for now, the most accessible place to shop Sylvia Mollie is online at http://www.sylviamollie.com/