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THE DESIGNER ISSUE The L evel21 Team Publisher & Chief Executive Officer Tempestt Harris (CEO) Chief Operating Officer/ Editor In Chief Maresa Scott (COO) Chief Financial Officer Anitra Scott (CFO) Creative Director Michael Lopez Administrative Staff Sales Executive Anitra Scott Sales

Writers Writer Desi Helm Contributing writer Marage Blakeney Contributing writer Chris Pointe Co-Editor Intern Bianca Allan Writer Intern Chris Lewis Blogger/ Journalist Intern Kaitlin Booe

Michelle Mitchell Ashley Lindo

Victoria Calamusa



Contributor/ Correspondent

Antoinne Duan Jones

Shartiera Wilkerson

Laurence Logan-The T.Z Studio Todd Youngblood

Graphic Design

Glen Byrd- Photo X Words

Layout Designer Antoine Boderick Fashion Stylist

Videography Toussaint StudiosEmmanuel Toussaint

Jerry Thompson Style and Wardrobe Contributor

Corporate Public Relations

Jekia Benson

Pac Public Relations

Makeup Artist

Digital Level21 Media LLC.

Alexis Washington April Hill

Yumpu Wribits









UVANA DO RAN The Woman With An Eye for Innovation!

By Ch r i s L ew i s


ay hello to Uvana Doran! She is a forward-thinking designer

from New York, who relocated down to the Triad area here in North Carolina just four years ago. She has studied fashion design at The Fashion Institute of New York, and has a Bachelor ?s of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Design from North Carolina A&T State University, so you know she is definitely an expert when it comes to style! She has worked with Paul Carroll, a renowned New York designer, where she gained valuable knowledge in creating fabulous designs and developing new products.

We interviewed Uvana recently where she graciously gave us some insight on her background as well as her experiences working in the fashion industry thus far. Check it out! Can you t ell ou r r eader s abou t you r back gr ou n d in f ash ion design ? I studied Fashion Design at The Fashion Institute of technology in NY and North Carolina A&T State University receiving a Bachelor ?s of Science degree in Fashion Merchandising and Design. During my studies I've worked with renown designer Paul Carrol as well as participated in a number of events both locally and abroad. Please descr ibe you r design in g pr ocess. Fem in in e, evolvin g, classic ch ic. A bit of Diana Ross in 1975's Mahogany mixed with the structured edge and a power of Grace Jones. What or who inspires you? I'm inspired by classic feminine silhouettes, clean lines, and the retro flair of Harlem, NY during the 70's. If you cou ld br in g back an old f ash ion t r en d t h at is n ow ou t of st yle, w h at w ou ld it be? For me, there is nothing "old" in fashion. Fashion is cyclical and rhythmic. Wh at is t h e m ost r ew ar din g aspect of bein g a par t of t h e f ash ion in du st r y? The ability to stand on a competitive platform, be loyal to your own design aesthetic and create wearable art that is unapologetic. Nam e on e per son , f am ou s or som eon e you k n ow per son ally, t h at h as in f lu en ced you r per son al st yle t h e m ost an d h ow

Wh at is on e im por t an t lesson or piece of advice t h at aspir in g f ash ion design er s sh ou ld lear n bef or e t h ey br eak in t o t h e in du st r y? Pace yourself, learn when to be a cup and at what point you are called to be a vessel. Find an accountability partner, someone who will remind you of why you started. Learn when to say no once you develop brand equity (no need to be everywhere, in everything. There is a blessing in selectivity!) Last but not least.vessel, pour what you learned into another emerging designer 's cup. Wh o ar e som e design er s you w ou ld love t o w or k w it h ? Donna Karan, Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, and too bad Alexander McQueen is gone, his designs cater to my Grace Jones side. Can you descr ibe t o ou r r eader s you r exper ien ce w or k in g w it h Goodw ill Rock t h e Ru n w ay? Working with Goodwill Rock the Runway was a great way for me to break into and connect with the industry here in the South as well as other emerging designers in my area. New York can be over saturated with professionals and beginners alike in this industry. Moving to NC gave me a chance to spread outside of my comfort zone and help contribute to the budding fashion industry right here in the South. Being named Designer of the year for Goodwill's Rock the Runway 2015 was such an achievement and a wonderful experience. Wh at ar e you r f u t u r e plan s f or you r f ash ion car eer ? I'm truly excited about being able to market my brand and line this Fall 2018. I'm looking forward to elevating my platform as an African American designer and becoming a brand to reckon with in the Industry. A posh boutique presence is definitely in my future as well as a studio space dedicated to pouring back into future designers. As a designer and as an apparel teacher at a visual and performing arts school, it is equally important for me to give back as it is for me to pursue higher levels of success and achievements of my own. Wh er e can ou r r eader s r each you an d see you r design s? Readers, potential clients, and collaborators can reach me via my website UVANADORAN,COM or by way of Instagram Uvana Doran. We?d like to thank Uvana Doran for the opportunity to learn more about her and we wish her all the best in her flourishing career!

Wha t Ha ppens When You Exercise Your Fa ith And Your Bod y? By:Marage Blakeney

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, ?less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day; only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.? Although these statistics may be alarming to some people, Christophe and Nicole Pointe are doing something exciting to reverse these trends. They are the illustrious owners of Anytime Fitness located in Rock Hill, South Carolina. They had to overcome the barriers that come from public scrutiny and resource funding to let their naysayers know that ?nothing is impossible with God?. Recently, Level 21 had the wonderful opportunity to discuss their journey: Tell us a little a bit about your journey to becoming owners of Anytime Fitness. Bef or e I becam e an en t r epr en eu r , I w or ked in t h e h ealt h car e in du st r y f or t w o decades. Du r in g t h at t im e, I co-au t h or ed a self h elp book en t it led, ?Alon e in t h e M u lt it u de? an d assist ed in t h e f or m at ion of a n on -pr of it or gan izat ion t h at w as specif ically design ed t o m en t or you n g boys an d gir ls f r om disadvan t aged back gr ou n ds. Th at w as m y f ir st st in t in t h e w or ld of bu sin ess an d ser vicin g t h e com m u n it y pr ovidin g valu able exper ien ce in var iou s w ays. Wh ile oper at in g m y n on -pr of it or gan izat ion I lear n ed h ow t o pr ior it ize h elpin g ot h er s above all else. I also lear n ed t h e valu e of par t n er in g w it h ot h er or gan izat ion s t o ach ieve h ave a gr eat er im pact . On e day m y w if e saw an old f r ien d w h o m ist aken ly assu m ed sh e w as pr egn an t . Th is w as t h e cat alyst t o ju m pst ar t in g h er on a f it n ess jou r n ey t h at w ou ld t ake bot h of u s in t o a w h ole n ew dir ect ion . How did Nicole react when someone thought that she was pregnant? Wh en m y w if e w as m ist aken f or bein g pr egn an t , sh e w as devast at ed. Sh e did n ot sh ow it ou t w ar dly, bu t I cou ld t ell h er f eelin gs w er e h u r t . In st ead of becom in g discou r aged, t h is in ciden ce cr eat ed an in sat iable dr ive t h at m ade h er st op at n ot h in g t o be h ealt h y. It becam e h er m ot ivat ion . Over t h e cou r se of t h e f ollow in g year , sh e lost 80 pou n ds. Fr om t h er e I con vin ced h er t o st ar t h er ow n You Tu be

f it n ess ch an n el, Ash Poin t e, in or der t o h elp ot h er s in t h e sam e sit u at ion . Sh e gar n er ed over 17,000 f ollow er s by givin g w or kou t t ips, diet ar y advice an d per son al en cou r agem en t . I appear ed in sever al videos an d t h e f eedback w e r eceived w as over w h elm in gly posit ive. Th at f eedback gave m e t h e idea t h at w e cou ld w or k t oget h er in f it n ess if pr esen t ed t h e r igh t oppor t u n it y. Wh ile sear ch in g f or bu sin ess ven t u r es t o in vest in , I discover ed An yt im e Fit n ess. Why did you choose Anytime Fitness, rather another franchise gym? I ch ose t h e An yt im e Fit n ess f r an ch ise becau se t h eir cor e valu es (People, Pu r pose, Pr of it s, Play) align ed w it h m in e. I also r esear ch ed h ow t h e br an d f ocu ses on m ak in g t h e w h ole per son h ealt h ier f ar beyon d ju st f it n ess. Af t er r each in g ou t t o t h e cor por at e h eadqu ar t er s, I w as qu ick ly f aced w it h t h e h ar sh r ealit y t h at bu yin g a br an d f r an ch ise w ou ld t ake m ajor capit al t h at I sim ply did n ot h ave. Af t er get t in g over t h e in it ial disappoin t m en t , I did m or e r esear ch an d discover ed t h at t h er e w as an exist in g An yt im e Fit n ess f or sale in Rock Hill, SC. How difficult was it to secure funding and create a plan to own your business? It w as a ch allen ge t o cr eat e a bu sin ess plan . I h ad

w r it t en on e bef or e, so I h ad t o r esear ch all t h e det ails of r u n n in g a bu sin ess, dem ogr aph ics, m ar ket in g plan s, oper at ion al in f or m at ion an d a h ost of ot h er aspect s of r u n n in g a bu sin ess. It w as a gr eat lear n in g t ool t h at h elped m e u n der st an d h ow t o pr oper ly r u n m y bu sin ess. Secu r in g f u n din g w as a w h ole an ot h er h u r dle. I cr eat ed pr oposals an d pr esen t ed t h e oppor t u n it y f or cer t ain in dividu als t o in vest . Also, I u t ilized m y ow n in vest m en t accou n t s. Fin din g f u n din g f or ced m e t o iden t if y all of m y pot en t ial r esou r ces an d det er m in e h ow t o ef f ect ively access t h em f or bu sin ess pu r poses. M y w if e an d I pr oceeded t o w r it e a bu sin ess plan an d r aised t h e f u n ds t o pu r ch ase ou r dr eam . Now w e?r e pr ou d ow n er s of ou r ow n f it n ess f acilit y w h er e w e h elp people by sim ply u sin g w or k in g ou t as ou r t ool. What advice do you have for future entrepreneurs who want to transform their vision to a sustainable reality? M y advice f or ot h er pot en t ial bu sin ess ow n er s w ou ld be t o plan , plan , an d plan . In f or m at ion is n ot on ly pow er ; bu t it is also a blu epr in t on h ow you r vision is t r u ly goin g t o look . M y secon d piece of advice is t o t ake st eps t h at pu t you closer t o you r dr eam ever y sin gle day. The best way exercise is to know that your faith will a greater yield in your personal, spiritual, and physical life. We must stretch our muscles. According to Harvard Health, ?we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence...without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.? However, if we follow the Pointe?s example, we will discover what happens when we exercise our faith and our bodies in a positive ways. It may be the deciding factor in our spiritual and physical growth from degeneration to regeneration. For more information please visit,

Photographer: Laurence Logan Model: Fiona Rose


Take care of yourselves.

Modeling carries its own health concerns. A small study by Model Alliance, an advocacy group focused on improving working conditions for models, in conjunction with researchers at Northeastern and Harvard universities, found that 81% of the models surveyed reported a body mass index of less than 18.5, which the World Health Organization deems ?underweight.? Likewise, the pressure frequently led to what they called ?unhealthy weight control behaviors,? including eating disorders. In that regard at least, modeling is sort of like being a professional football player? a job with enough prestige that it attracts people willing to risk their health for it.

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"Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live." ? Gian n i Ver sace


A Day I n The L ife..

We watch as Tygerian Burke skillfully creates her pieces effortlessly. Photography by Laurence Logan-The.TZ .Studio

By Chr is Pointe


hen it comes to fashion

the brand means everything? When it comes to premier designer clothing Tygerian Lace this is especially the case. The self-titled brand is the diversified brain child of fashion designer Tygerian Lace a charismatic young professional respectfully epitomizing today?s modern femininity to the tee. ?In 2014 I decided to start Tygerian Lace, she remarks openly,? I was a young working mom in corporate America and I was in a space where I just wanted to revamp my style.? At that time her closet was at the mercy of the Forever 21?s of the world and Tygerian simply wanted something different. ?I said I?ll just get a machine and start sewing.? She began with the idea of making designer clothes, which she typically

couldn?t afford, specifically for herself. Inevitably her new style began catching the attention of other people. It was at that point that she sat down with her mom and grandmother to discuss the possibility of it becoming a legitimate business to delve into. ?My mom is a free spirit and she?s not in a box. She was like, go for it!? ?My grandmother, on the other hand, is more of a planner so "CUSTOME INTERACTION" her first reaction was how will you support yourself?? With the growing success of Tygerian Lace her grandmother is now her biggest supporter. ?It?s funny to see her commenting and sharing information on social media about the brand now.? It was from both of those two maternal figures that Tygerian inherited her winning attitude.

?I guess it was passed down to me to always believe that nothing was impossible.? So much of Tygerian?s personality is embodied within her designs. She?s glitz and glam at times but as simplistic as t-shirt and jeans at other moments. Her styles encompass a little bit of everything from ready to wear ensembles to embellishment laden outfits alike. ?My brand has quality and character. It?s fearless because it makes you feel like you can conquer the world. Tygerian Lace empowers women through its versatility and allows them to have a fearless approach to the various aspects of womanhood.? Today?s modern woman is diverse, and the brand captures that facet of feminine character perfectly. So, why is lace such an important signature of the Tygerian Lace brand? ?Lace is my middle name,? Tygerian

responds with candid confidence. ?It?s also one of my favorite fabrics to design. It?s almost like it?s destiny.? Take a brief glance at her collection and you quickly get the sense that much of her designs feel like they were simply meant to be. ?My goal is always to give my customers a custom interaction. I?m not a seamstress; thay merely makes things. I give you the ability to interact with what your design is going to be.? The Tygerian experience is definitely one intended to leave you feeling unique and ultra-special. ?If I had to give advice to other aspiring designers it would be to always ask questions. Don?t let others simply offer you services,? Lace admonishes. ?Ask why they?re shooting from certain angles...why they?re using a specific lighting.? Understanding the full

"TL is a design label that explores the unconventional paring of textures and silhouettes. A bold yet timeless aesthetic for any woman. " Continued.. spectrum of the business is what Tygerian stresses. ?That?s how you grow,? she exhorts. Tygerian?s brand is as daring as she is and it truly embodies the traits that make her unique even in a sea of other brands. What started as an endeavor, solely to suit her personal stylistic taste buds, is quickly blossoming into the standard in women?s fashion. Tygerian Lace may soon be the next big thing.Be on the lookout for her Designer Square Opening in Charlotte next month.





Photo by Godisable Jacob Model: Melody

More About

CHARLES JOSEF By Chr is L ewis



harles Josef is making waves across

the nation all the way from the scenic town of Asheville, North Carolina! He is a fashion mastermind, creating men?s swimwear and wedding attire that continues to make heads turn. People come from miles around to get custom made attire from Charles Josef ?s design studio. His renowned collections have also been seen on the runways of New York Fashion Week. If that isn?t incentive enough to check out the genius behind these aesthetically intriguing collections, then we don?t know what is! We recently interviewed with the fashion designer to learn more about how he got his start and what inspires him to create such fabulous designs. Can you t ell u s a lit t le bit abou t you r back gr ou n d an d h ow you st ar t ed you r bu sin ess m ak in g br idal at t ir e? Well, I not only make bridal attire. I make swimsuits and I produce a variety of items in the studio. I?ve sewn since I was a child. My grandmother was a sample seamstress in the garment district in New York. She taught me how to sew when I was very young. I continued with it and got my degree in it and went from there. You r am azin g design s h ave been f eat u r ed in New Yor k Fash ion Week . Wh at w as t h at lik e f or you ? It was a wonderful experience. It's always nice to show things and get a very good response. It?s nice to show everything on a larger stage and get the brand out. For many years, I was a custom designer and now I?m building the brand. I?m being more commercial. It was a great time and an asset to have people see them on a larger scale. Wh at in spir at ion s do you dr aw f r om w h en you ar e cr eat in g a design ? I usually am inspired by my clients or what they are doing. In other words, venues, cities, places, events, those

things will inspire me. I imagine what the client in question is going to wear to that event or place. I just picture the garment that would be perfect in that setting. If you h ave t o n am e or descr ibe in det ail on e br idal gow n t h at you ?ve design ed t h at w as you r all-t im e f avor it e t o cr eat e, w h at w ou ld it be? It would be the butterfly gown that I made last year. I think it?s very different. It stands out among bridal gowns because it has color in it, even though it?s mostly white. I think it?s the perfect gown for an outdoor wedding, whether it?s casual or formal. The dress works well with the outdoor setting. The textile that I used in it is one that I designed as well. Wh at seem s t o be a com m on ly desir ed t h em e, if an y, am on g cu st om er s w h o ask f or a cu st om design f r om you r st u dio? The current themes for men?s swimwear are mermaid/merman, nautical, fish scales. People are really asking for that. As far as bridal, people are asking for bohemian style dresses and 70s inspired dresses. Those are what people seem to really be gravitating towards. Please t ell ou r r eader s w h at set s you r br idal at t ir e an d even in g collect ion apar t f r om ot h er design st u dios. For one, it?s made here in Asheville. It is a local brand. I utilize local labor. There is a line that you can purchase. Every dress is customizable. If a bride does not want to get a gown custom designed, she can customize her ready-made gown from the line to make it very unique. There are so many possibilities that brides can get by coming to me versus what they can get from a dress from a conventional bridal salon. Whether it?s just buying other designers?gowns and selling them, here you have options and you?re able to partially create the gown that you want if you don?t exact see it on the rack.

Wh at w ou ld you say is t h e m ost in t er est in g or r ew ar din g aspect of bein g apar t of t h e f ash ion in du st r y? Getting the opportunity to do what I love! Wh at advice w ou ld you give t o aspir in g f ash ion design er s an d par t icu lar ly t h ose w h o w ou ld like t o design br idal gow n s as w ell? My advice would be to really get to know your market, their tastes and their finances. It is very important to cater to both. Wh er e can Level21 r eader s con t act you an d see som e of you r design s? Men?s wear, you can see them at Bridal attire can be seen on my website And of course, clients can always make appointments to come to the studio! Recently, Charles Josef brought his 2018 Retreat Collection for Men to New York which features an expanded group of menswear in his Swim and Resort line. The line will include exclusive prints, resort wear, and alternative evening and wedding attire. We are sure that this will make quite the splash in the fashion industry! We would like to thank Charles Josef for interviewing with us, and we wish you continued success!


W hen She Leaves... TODAY You n eed t o m ak e a ch an ge. Keeping yourself busy is no good. Your mind is not where it should be. You are constantly thinking about her so you are probably at about 10% capacity. The key is to treat yourself. Take yourself out on a date. Take a day or two off from work, go to a museum, a movie, go out with friends. Treat yourself and put yourself in a completely different environment. Leave town if you can. Stay in a bed and breakfast where you never stayed before. But you have to totally change your environment for at least a day. Sleep at least eigh t h ou r s. I would say ten hours but many people can?t do that (I?m a professional at sleeping ten hours). If you have trouble sleeping that many hours because you are anxious about the situation then go to your doctor, explain the situation, and get medication. When I?ve been broken up with I was not able to sleep without the help of medication Don?t w at ch TV. Not even ?Mad Men?. Not even the news. How come? Because on every TV show, including the news, people are either killing each other, cheating on each other, or (in the case of the news) trying to ruin your financial life. You have enough troubles, you don?t need Don Draper ?s troubles as well. You might think, ?this will keep my mind off of X?. But it won?t. It will just remind you of the most painful parts of your relationship wth X. Don?t Spy. Which probably also means: no facebook, twitter, and limit all websurfing. How come? The news is already bad. She or he left. She?s gone. Any information you find out now is for what point? To win her back? To prove her wrong? To prove you right or justified in yelling at her? What good will that do you? It?s over.So you have to avoid outside stimulus that is going to make you feel bad and just move forward. For give you r self an d h er So you did spy after all...So you threw a book in anger...So you were a complete jerk and now she left and is with another man.So you got angry and cried and tried to argue with her not to go...So the police came and picked you up.Ok, you were bad. But you?re not a bad person. You just were abandoned. Maybe there are childhood issues that need to be addressed to heal. It brought back memories of every other time you were abandoned. The faster you forgive yourself, the less likely this type of thing will happen in the future. Maybe you deserve to have been left. But there?s seven billion people on the planet. About half of them or of the opposite sex from you. You?ll find another one who is even better.

By James A. Photo:Bruce Mars

W hen He Leaves... TODAY When you?re lying awake in bed until 4 AM and you can?t stop the tears from flowing down your face. When you can?t eat because you?re so sick to your stomach. When you just don?t understand what you could have done different or better in order to make him stay. When all those thoughts are streaming through your head on repeat there?s something I want you to know; I want you to know that you did nothing wrong. That you loved with your whole heart, you gave him every piece of you and even tried to dig deeper for more. I know it wasn?t hard for you to find more though because loving him was easy for you and it was fun. You loved him so much and he claimed he loved you too, but he still left. True love doesn?t just look you in the eyes and walk away, especially when they don?t give you a justifiable answer. That?s what hurts the worst; not even knowing why he?s walking away. All you know is there is nothing that you can do to change his mind because he?s so damn stubborn. He made the decision for the both of you on his own and it?s not fair. It?s tearing you more and more apart because now you can see it?s really over and he?s not coming back. But here?s the thing, he knows you didn?t do anything wrong, he knows you loved him with your whole heart and he knows how good of a girl you are, but he still let you go. There is nothing wrong with you, Something he might not even know, but subconsciously he knows he?s holding you back, he knows you deserve a better life and you deserve better He knows something he isn?t telling you, that?s why he?s letting you go. He knows he hurt you, but he just doesn?t know how to make the hurt go away. He thinks he?s doing what?s best for the both of you, but you might not see that until the future after you?ve reestablished yourself. Or maybe you?ll never see it and continue to love him always, even through the pain. All you can do is stay strong and stay true to yourself, let the moments of weakness in and allow them to break you down into a puddle of your own tears. Those moments of weakness and vulnerability will only make you stronger. You can?t see it now and I?m sure you?re sick of hearing that things will get better, because right now it doesn?t feel like it, but they will. That doesn?t mean you still won?t miss him or that you?ll never think of him because you will. You?ll always remember him, but maybe you?ll forget what his kiss felt like or what his deodorant smelled like. Maybe you will forget the little things, but you probably won?t ever forget him completely and that?s okay.



here are moments when clothes are far more then just one?s outward attire. They?re stints of time where brand clad outfits personify way more than just one?s status. They?re expressions of esthetic genius. They?re periods where ?made to measure? humbly surrenders to true custom. It?s also where one?s intrinsic personality detonates into physical reality. William Wilson designer extraordinaire, creates these moments with his clothing line William Wilson Clothing.

His journey into fashion wasn?t a

From there William made the transition from Motorsports to the world of high profile custom fashion. Here he?s designed looks for the red carpet at the Emmys, Oscars and the Grammys. Wilson?s rise to fashion supremacy is a story of humble beginnings, seizing opportunities and unadulterated drive. In this exclusive interview he details how he went from being a country kid from the heartland of America to clothing America?s powerful and famous.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore. direct path. Wilson served 8 years in the U.S. Navy before landing on the NASCAR pit crew of Ultra Motorsports. There he became the first African-American to win a championship in NASCAR history.

Where are you from? How has your origins influenced your brand? William : I?m from a small town in Arkansas called Gregory. I?m from rural America. Farm country. Home

of hard working, good hearted, and simple people. Where people know and help their neighbors, and they appreciate the simple things in life. They aren?t trying to ?keep up with the Jones??. They?re just doing the best they can in the position they find themselves in. And they give 100%. That?s the William Wilson brand. Both personally and professionally. I am 100% to my client. I want them to be happy. I give it my all. I have sacrificed, cried, laughed, risen and fallen all while running this company. Sometimes in the same day. But I love it. Because every new day and every new client, makes me a better person, and subsequently allows me to build a better brand. How did you go from the pit crew to being one of the most sought after clothing designers in America?

Ph ot ogr aph y by Lau r en ce Logan

William : It was honestly a lot of being at the right place at the right time. Then recognizing opportunities when they were presented, an going after them. And a WHOLE lot of God. I owned a construction company, and I wore a lot of suits because I went to a lot of meetings. One day, one of my homes owners asked me to help him with his wardrobe. That led to me helping his friends as well. I eventually thought ?Since I?m already telling them what to get, if I could provide it, their may be a business in this. I started doing some research and planning, and voila!! William Wilson Clothing was born. Then I took what I knew about people, branding and social media, and built the brand that you know today.

What gets you more excited as a designer...the famous clients that you design for or the notable events like the Grammys where your styles will be displayed? Why?

In 3 words describe William Wilson Clothing.

William: Well, if those are my only 2 choices, I?d say the clients. I make suits for some of the most famous and powerful people on the planet. They could go anywhere for their clothing. And the fact that they chose ME, out of everyone else in the world, is both humbling and uplifting. And when they order from you again, that let?s you know they really do appreciate your work. Anyone can go to those events. But to have your clothes ON the artist is far more satisfying. But I get my most satisfaction comes from either when a client puts on his first custom suit, or his/ her first William Wilson suit and can?t stop grinning and looking in the mirror. That look in their eye is PRICEESS!

William : Blessed, Humbled and Unapologetic

How is your personality reflected in your clothing line?

What sets your brand apart from the rest? William : 4 things....1. I own the entire company. So you deal with the owner. Not a incognito sales rep that looks like the owner. I own my manufacturing as well. So I can provide a unique level of service and options, no other brand can offer.

William : Only in the quality and strive for perfection in the construction. I work with my clients to showcase THEIR personality, not mine. I?m just their to earn and maintain their trust that I can make their personality a physical reality. If the client?s clothing reflected MY personality, I may as well just sell out of the rack suits.

2. We do TRUE custom. Not ?made to measure? so our product is superior to most of he products in the marketplace. And limited only by your imagination.

It?s been said that clothes don?t make the man but you?re literally the man who makes the clothes...what do you want your clothes to say about any man who wears them?

3. The client experience. My showroom is designed for clients that seek an accommodations that make them feel special and appreciated. It?s stocked with top shelf spirits and free WiFi-so you can relax while you browse through the fabrics.

William : Well for one thing, I don?t just make clothes for men. I make them for women as well. But as far as clothes ?making the man? they don?t. But they make his statement. They let people know how they should look at you. Clothes are an outward expression of what you think internally. They set the foundation for your acceptance in society. Look broke, people treat you broke. Look like a criminal, people respond like you?re a criminal. Dress like a professional, and people will more than likely treat you as such. Even if you?re unemployed.

4. I build relationships with my clients. They aren?t just customers. We get to really know each other. They aren't just a means to an end. They are important. What would you say is your major passion behind your brand? What motivates you to design? William :My passion IS the brand. I love running it, growing it, making adjustments. I like creating new brand strategies and testing them out. I like seeing my ideas come to fruition, and I enjoy learning where I went wrong when it doesn't. And I love when I meet new people and the way they react to the brand when they see it, or my work, in person and on social media. And I love the responses that they send me. How long did it take for you to create your brand as a business? What about that journey has stuck with you? William: It actually happened rather quickly. My intent was ALWAYS to build the company through the brand. This is America, we thrive on wearing brands. Even if the product is complete TRASH Americans will buy it, as long as the branding is strong enough. Strong brands illicit almost instantaneous credibility and trust. And after all, you brand sets the expectation for the trust in you and your product; and thus the success of your brand and/or company.

As for what I want my clothes to say about my client: I want them to say, ?This is a man that wanted the best, sought out the best, and now has the best. And he makes no apology for out dressing you.? What?s your ultimate vision for William Wilson Clothing? How would you like to see it grow? William : I would like to see it grow vertically. I want William Wilson Clothing to be the beautiful woman in the room. I want everyone to want it. But not be able to get it. I want it to be above the standard, in a class all it?s own. I want it to be a symbol of accomplishment. I want it to be sought out and desired even more than it is now. I want it to be the platinum standard. And I want my clients to feel like a super hero when they wear them. What advice would you give to aspiring clothing designers? William : The same advice I?d give to anyone with an aspiration: just start. I know that sounds like an oversimplification. But it?s the truth. Too many people

CONTINUED ?want to? or ?aspire to?. I personally don?t care what anyone is aspiring to, or dream about. I care about what they are working towards. Put in the work. You can?t cheat the work. You can?t take shortcuts from the work. You can?t think, plan and hope your way around the work. You HAVE to do the work, so you might as well get started. You don't need a board certification, or pass a state exam to be a designer. Just start designing. There?s always going to be a learning curve. But the sooner you start, the sooner you can start seeing yourself up for success. Where can William Clothing be found? William: If you are looking for custom, you have to make an appointment through my website I also have some ready made suits in my online store. Or you can reach out via Twitter or Instagram (@TheClothier). Or Facebook at WearWilliamW


Ph ot ogr aph y by: Todd Youngblood M odels: Jordan Mitzel, Sophia Jolly,Rafael Horton, Alexandrea Lesane, Kamilya Karimova Cr eat ive Dir ect or : Tempestt Harris War dr obe: Five13 studio M UA: Paul Mitchell



harity Baxter is the proud owner of H. Lerent. This luxury fashion boutique provides unique and unforgettable attire for women. According to Charity, ?Every piece that we put into our store is hand-picked. It?s curated to make you feel and look amazing. When you?re in H. Lerent, it?s something special.? Just like the meaning of her name, Charity has a unique gift of ?goodwill toward and love of humanity?. Her boutique is an extension of her genuine love for making women feel and look exquisite. Recently, Level 21 had the pleasure to speak with Charity in detail about her fascinating life and her luxury boutique:

THE INTERVIEW By:Ma ra g e Bla keney Tell u s a lit t le bit abou t you r self an d you r f ash ion exper ien ce. I am a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I began my career as a makeup artist and I had an eye for fashion. Naturally, these talents afforded me an opportunity to enlarge my territory by becoming a boutique owner in 2004 in Atlanta. Armed with the fashion and business knowledge that I obtained in Atlanta, I was able to open my own luxury boutique, H. Lerent in Charlotte, North Carolina.

legacy and let him know that his name will never be forgotten. Therefore, we have two boutiques named after him. One of the locations is in Saint Catherine, Jamaica and the other one is in Charlotte. Wh at m ot ivat es you an d keep you goin g as a bu sin ess ow n er ?

H. Lerent is my ?baby?. Although entrepreneurship has its challenges, it is very rewarding. I ask God for more patience and I received a business. Therefore, I do not let the How did you com e u p w it h t h e seemingly ?road blocks? of being a bou t iqu e?s n am e of H. Ler en t ? entrepreneur deter me. I love working with people and making My children?s grandfather is Hepburn women ?feel pretty?. If a woman feels Lerent. During the 1970?s, he was a pretty, her whole attitude changes to local fashion icon in Jamaica. He a positive one. Once our clients come wore the most unique pieces of into H. Lerent, we provide them with clothing that captured the attention quality customer service to ensure of all of the locals. Currently, he is that they look and feel beautiful suffering from dementia. Before it is inside and out. The reward of too late, we wanted to honor his transforming a person?s life is the motivating factor to keeping me going as a business owner. Wh at ar e you r f u t u r e plan s? I have two plans that I am working on. The first plan is to cater more to the ?plus-size? demographics and owning a plus-sized boutique. Unfortunately, most of the clothing options for plus sized women are styles that look like a either grandma,

hooker, or teenager. I want to provide stylish attire that would make a curvy woman feel and look elegant and amazing. Also, I want to move to a centralized location that is more accessible. Since this is my baby, I want more people to come visit my boutique. I believe that moving to another location will allow H. Lerent to grow and reach a wider audience of women who desire to feel and look fabulous. How can ou r r eader s f in d H. Ler en t ? H. Lerent is located at 5025 North Tryon Street Suite 107 in Charlotte, North Carolina. They can also visit us online at Charity and H. Lerent?s manta is, ?Fashion fades but styles remains. Be more than fashionable, be unforgettable.? In the words of Janna Cachola, ?You have to slay it in life or life will slay you.? So if you desire to slay it in life, you can either stay at home or opt to slay by making a trip to H. Lerent to add more garment artillery within your wardrobe arsenal. For more information on H. Lerent, visit or discover them on social media @h.lerentclt on Instagram or @hlerent on FaceBook.

By: Chr is L ewis


nRootz is one of Charlotte?s most

unique design stores that features ensembles that are heavily influenced by Indian culture. The store is operated by Mukta Ghangas, Manoj and Neeta Singh. Mukta designs the clothes, while Manoj handles business, while Neeta helps Mukta?s ideas come to fruition and deals with business operations in India. The EnRootz Team works hard to reach consumers on a global scale. Their beautifully-crafted handmade designs have been featured in New York Fashion Week, which is a wondrous opportunity! They were happy to tell us their story and gave us their take on today?s fashion industry.

Please sh ar e you r h ist or y an d back gr ou n d w or k in g in f ash ion . EnRootz, the fashion fiesta! It's now almost three years when this fashion brand, EnRootz came into existence. It's the brain child of ex-IT professional Mukta Ghangas who left her profession to chase her dream of entering the fashion world. Wh at in spir at ion s do you pu ll f r om w h en you ar e design in g an ar t icle of clot h in g? Mukta always wanted to create fashion which would not only make ladies look gorgeous but which would let her be a real self. When it's about the inspiration behind her designs, let's not forget that she's true Indian in every sense and all her pieces are inspired by Indian

culture. And to add to it, her focus is to satiate global appetite for fashion with Indianness attached. Nam e you r t op t h r ee f avor it e design s t h at you h ave alr eady cr eat ed. Coral saree made from Reza: This handwoven saree made out of heritage fabric Reza is amongst her favorite. Icing on the cake is the multi colored sequin hand embroidery all over the border edges and sprinkles on the pallu. Navy blue silk kurta: This anarkali kurta has dabka hand embroidery on yolk with an extension of work till one of the wrists. Green dangri made out of Reza:

Fabric Reza is a versatile fabric and this dress is a perfect example. This also has got beautiful hand embroidery on it. Wh at w ou ld you say is t h e m ost dif f icu lt or ch allen gin g aspect of cr eat in g a design ? Although any design takes a lot of designer ?s imagination and work but what I believe the most challenging part is to maintain the uniqueness of the outfits. When we know that what we wear is exclusive, makes the person wearing it so special. Descr ibe you r exper ien ce w it h h avin g you r design s f eat u r ed in New Yor k Fash ion Week . How did it f eel t o k n ow t h at so m an y people w ou ld see you r f abu lou s design s? NY fashion week is a dream destination for any fashion designer and so was for us, a dream come true! Exposure, new things to learn, to meet established as well as new designers, to share ideas and designs - there was so much in the city. And like when we were appreciated by one and all for bringing Indian heritage fabric Reza on international platform for the first time, that feeling was no less than any award.

En Root z also con sist s of t w o ot h er ow n er s, M an oj an d Neet a Sin gh . Can you t ell u s w h at it ?s like t o w or k w it h t h em alon g w it h t h e in dividu al con t r ibu t ion s bet w een t h e t h r ee of you ? EnRootz is a tripod with three pillarsMukta, the designer (owner in US); Manoj, the marketing expert (the volunteer) and Neeta, the executioner (owner in India). Once any design is finalised by Mukta, it becomes the responsibility of Neeta to bring it to reality. Being sisters, the bonding always gives a comfortable edge to convey ideas and helps in execution. Manoj, whole heartedly volunteer to extend all his support to wife Mukta to fulfil her dream by taking care of marketing. If you h ad t o cr it iqu e t h e t oday ?s f ash ion in du st r y, w h at w ou ld you say? Today's fashion industry has evolved like never before and like everything else it also has its own pros n cons. This fast-growing industry has overlooked the artisans who not only work hard but are also part of our heritage. Being the designers, we should try to promote artisans who

work at the root level, who still do hand work like weaving, embroidery etc. Nam e t h r ee design er s you w ou ld love t o collabor at e w it h ! You might call me biased but my choice would be Indian designers Sabyasachi; Manish Malhotra; Rohit Bal; Payal Khandwala. Wh at f u t u r e plan s do you h ave in st or e f or you r f ash ion design com pan y? EnRootz now look forward to become a global brand, by setting up stores not only across America and India but in other countries as well. Wh er e can ou r r eader s con t act you an d view som e of you r design s? w w w.en r oot w w w.f / en r oot zclot h in g We really appreciate EnRootz for sharing their story with us. Best of luck to you all, and we look forward to seeing what you all come up with next!



Meet Arkevious Armstrong, an inspirational speaker, author, fashion designer, and businessman. A native of Gastonia, he comes from a family of six children. He is the founder of the ?Step Up to Leadership? program, and mentors troubled teens who are in need of guidance. Since beginning his career as a mentor and motivational speaker, Armstrong has reached over 3,000 teens and adults across the nation. His desire to see others succeed fuels his spirit and drive to speak in front of so many people. His clothing line, Arkinspire/Inspire Apparel is catered to men, women, and children and is part of his mission to see others become the ultimate version of themselves. Can you t ell ou r r eader s a lit t le bit abou t you r h ist or y an d back gr ou n d? I was born in Gastonia, NC and I am the youngest of 6 siblings. Unfortunately, I come from an uneducated background and grew up in an unstable environment that involved drug activity and physical and mental abuse. My experiences that occurred during my youth was being placed in foster care, detention centers and being a high school dropout with many run-ins with the law. These actions eventually landed me in prison on two separate occasions. While incarcerated I earned my GED and completed many educational programs and received my Associate Degree from Strayer University this allowed me to gain an earnest passion for empowering and motivating individuals about the importance of education by helping them make healthier choices and decisions in life. Since being released in 2006, I devote my time by mentoring, doing community outreach and becoming an inspirationalist. In addition to this I also started a clothing line for mentoring program for young males, ?Step Up To Leadership Mentoring Program. Wh at in spir ed you t o w r it e you r f ir st book ? I was inspired to write ?Destined For Victory? because I wanted to develop a book for people to inspire and motivate them every day before they start their day. Your readers can pre order the book at: Tell u s abou t h ow you st ar t ed you r clot h in g lin e, Ar k in spir e/ In spir e Appar el. I started my clothing line in 2017 because I want to have something that people can wear that represented me and what I stand for, which is ?Be Authentic, Be Different and Be Inspired. Wh at advice w ou ld you give t o aspir in g leader sh ip coach es? The advice I would give a person wanting to become a leadership coach is ?Be Authentic?. How do you def in e su ccess? To me success has nothing to do with self-gain,

self-benefits but more so to do with what you do for others and how you impact their lives. If you cou ld t h in k of on e com m on r eason w h y m an y people do n ot ach ieve t h eir f u llest pot en t ial in lif e, w h at w ou ld you say? I feel that people do not use their full potential in life because it is not urgent to them. Please t ell u s w h at h as been t h e m ost r ew ar din g exper ien ce (som et h in g t h at m ade you go, ?t h is is w h y I do t h is?) of you r car eer t h u s f ar . The most rewarding experience with everything I do is to get to see the impact that I am able to make in other lives being changed and inspired. Sin ce you speak at even t s of t en , w h at do you do t o pr epar e f or a speak in g en gagem en t ? Whenever I have an event, I prepare by going into a quiet place, listening to my favorite jazz group ?Odesza? and meditate for about 10-15 minutes. Fin ish t h e sen t en ce: ?I am h appiest w h en ? ? I am the most happiest when I am with my daughters because they are the apple of my eye. Wh er e can people f in d an d pu r ch ase clot h es f r om Ar k in spir e/ In spir e Appar el an d also, w h er e can t h ey get in con t act w it h you ? Everyone can order and purchase inspire apparel by visiting Facebook ,Youtube,-Arkevious J. Armstrong Instagram @Arkinspire81 twitter @Arkinspire17 Email ? or Thank you to Arkevious for taking the time out to interview with us! We wish him all the best as he continues to motivate so many people each and every day.

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The Designer Issue 2  
The Designer Issue 2