Heyy Dark Phx Family! It’s time for another Dark Phx 5 interview. This is a segment where we get to know the local business owners and how they got started in business.
Think of it like a quick introduction about the movers and shakers in the valley of the sun in effort to encourage our youth in finding their career paths, to increase visibility of the local businesses and to inspire memorable collaborations within the community.
Are you a fan of fashion and design?
Have you ever been interested in being a fashion designer?
Do you want to know what it can take to make it happen? This is the read for you.
We caught up with a successful and native to Phoenix fashion designer to get the tea on how she got her start and her future business goals.
Dark Phx 5
Question 1: Who are you? & Tell me about your business…
Dominique: “My name is Dominique ViNae. I am a couture bespoke fashion designer and the owner of VINAE Couture. I create garments for both men and women, but I specialize in high end couture, bridal, prom & special occasion.
I’m thirty something, born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I began sewing at the age of 8 after taking a sewing summer enrichment course. I attended and graduated from Marcos De Niza High School. Upon graduation I enrolled in the fashion merchandising program at Mesa Community College. There I learned the business side of the fashion industry.
I then took the knowledge gained and I marketed myself. Shamelessly!
From countless fashion shows with sometimes only a handful of people, to having my friends assist me as models and sometimes modeling my own designs because I couldn’t afford otherwise. Doing the hair, the make up, photography and making the clothes; I was a one woman show.
From hair shows, to trunk shows, and photoshoots –Literally changing clothes in the back of my minivan (my very first vehicle lol). Anything fashion related, you name it and I was there. My hustle eventually solidified a few clients locally and nationwide.
I started to take things more serious and finally filed the paperwork for my LLC 2012. I soon after gained my first celebrity client, Draya Michele, and my designs were featured on TV for the first time via reality show “Basketball Wives LA”.
After a few years of the local grind I began traveling back and forth to Houston, Texas to visit a cousin. There she and I would set our alarm clocks for 2am, get dressed and go to the strip clubs to pass out my business cards & flyers. [lol That’s actually where I met Maliah, who eventually became a muse of mine over the years. Through her I also met longtime clients Miracle Watts & Lira Galore.]
Within a few months of this, I began increasingly gaining clients, both local (AZ/Houston) and celebrity. Soon after that I was making more money on my monthly trips to Houston than I was here in Phoenix. On August 11, 2012, I took. leap of faith and I moved to Houston, Texas. When I arrived there, I had just one suitcase, two sewing machines, & $36 in my pocket. Really from there the rest is a dream.”
Great story! I love how you chose to bet on yourself, made it through some tough solo entrepreneurial battles and kept going. I’m sure gaining a win, motivated you to keep taking risks.
The strip club marketing was definitely a golden nugget. I’d go on to suggest it for anyone working the beauty industry and in media. Who do you find at the strip club, usually? Dancers of course, but also other entertainers with large audiences, business men, and nightlife professionals.
A lot of musical artists, specifically rappers, work with dj’s to market their music in the club circuits.
Question 2: How did you get started?
Dominique: “I grew up going to fabric stores with my mom and grandmother, both sewed regularly. I learned tips from them as a young girl, but my real love for sewing began when I was 8. Trying to get me out of my shell, my mother put me in a summer school sewing course.
I did NOT want to go, but after my first day and completing my first project, I was hooked!”
I wish I had the opportunity to take up sewing in school, it wasn’t offered. I did get the opportunity to take a sewing class at Joann fabric and crafts once, quite sometime after receiving my first sewing machine. I just knew I was about to customize my whole wardrobe.
Long story short, the machine was not operating properly like it had been in the sewing class. I know it was user error, but I for the life of me couldn’t figure it out. I decided sewing and fashion design probably wasn’t my calling and sold my sewing machine.
Question 3: Where do you see DominiqueViNae LLC in the next 5 years?
Dominique: “In the next 5 years I see Beyonce wearing my designs on somebody’s red carpet. I see my business growing and expanding. I see me having a bridal studio somewhere in Scottsdale or North Phoenix. Sold out pop up shopping experiences in other cities.
I see myself establishing my second brand. I see myself transitioning into teaching the next generation of sewers and creatives!”
It’s great to have multiple futures in which you can see your brand growing. Plans have a way of not always working out how you envision them to, that’s life. Giving yourself options allows you the opportunity to attain a favorable outcome, even if it’s not your first choice.
Question 4: What keeps you going when times get hard?
Dominique: “My family keeps me going when times get hard.
During the times I feel like quitting, I remember that 8 year old girl and the twinkle in my eye and the flutter in my heart when I first discovered fashion.
When times get hard I also remember the promises I’ve made to myself along the way. And ultimately the hope that something within me might inspire a little black girl to pursue the fashion industry. That’s enough inspiration to keep me going any day.”
Question 5: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to you younger self looking back?
Dominique: “JUST KEEP GOING BABYGIRL!”
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you’re interested in being featured or would like to see another business featured.