Fashion is her essence

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Her mom Rosalyn gave her some paper dolls and, at 7, Rochelle Minors found her dream job.

Designing, colouring and cutting would keep her busy for hours. Then came the thrill of seeing how her outfits looked on her models’.

Swirl, her collection at the 2018 Bermuda Fashion Festival, showed that she hasn’t veered off track.

Under her brand, Rochelle Nicole, it took top honours in the Local Designer Show alongside Charda Simons’s Street Lux. The women will next present their designs in September, at New York Fashion Week.

“I was so overwhelmed,” Ms Minors said of the July 13 win. “You know, you put your heart into something when you’re creative and, although you appreciate your work, you always doubt yourself as well.

“The way the audience received it means I’m doing something right. I was so proud.

“After, my Instagram was flooded, I got messages and e-mails. It’s been crazy. It was so touching for me. I’m so glad I did it.”

Some might say she got on her career path at 14, when she was named Miss Photogenic in the 2004 Miss Teen Bermuda Islands competition.

Modelling followed and, eight years later, she was named Miss Bermuda.

Fashion however, had her heart. “From young, it’s all I wanted to do. Since I was 7, I was drawing clothes.

“I was given Barbie dolls, but with Barbie dolls you can’t create clothes. My mom introduced me to paper dolls and I loved them. I would design the clothes I wanted and colour them and cut them out and it took off from there.

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“I always loved cameras, I loved modelling, but it was a hobby. Fashion design was always number one for me.”

At Bermuda College, she did an associate’s degree in art and design. In London, England, she discovered that wasn’t enough.

A foundation degree at West London College put her in good stead for a place at University for the Creative Arts, Rochester.

“At that time [the screening process] was intense,” she said. “I worked so hard to prove I belonged there [and eventually] got first class honours in fashion design.”

She launched Rochelle Nicole at London Graduate Fashion Week in 2014. “Out of 200 students only 25 were accepted,” she said. Work with UK fashion designers led to a job with Net-a-Porter, “the world’s leading online luxury company”.

After seven years, she took a leap of faith which propelled her on to the Bermuda Fashion Festival stage.

Although Bermuda isn’t a fashion centre, the experience “is working” for her so far.

She’s employed part-time at Three Graces Day Spa; in the remaining hours she’s free to develop her brand.

“I left London in December because I wanted to focus on creating a collection and be with my family,” the designer said. “I had a decent job, I had great friends, but I couldn’t be creative.”

The 12 looks she designed for Swirl got her noticed. Few knew that Ms Minors was also working full-time for the fashion event.

“I was model manager and retail co-ordinator for Evolution [Retail Show]. So I put it on, modelled in it and designed for it. It was crazy, but I loved it. I thrived in it.

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“I’d only planned to do six looks for myself. I went to New York in March and got fabric and then [got accepted by BFF] and they wanted 12 looks. I literally got into this zone and produced. I didn’t have a plan for 12, I just went with the flow.”

She describes her line as “sporty chic”.

“I call it a women’s transformation. There are pieces for youth, for work; pieces you can dress up or dress down.

“[It] appeals to a range of women which is why I think it’s so saleable. It’s not age-conscious either. I used jersey, soft fabrics that women can lounge in and also look fashionable in.”

“Hard work” and a ton of support got her where she is today, Ms Minors said.

“I’d like to say thank you to the Minors family: my parents, Marshall and Rosalyn Minors and two aunts, Kim Minors and Evelyn Minors.

“My Rochelle Nicole team helped to get everything together: my mentor, Viktor Luna, Bethea Pearman, Nicole Iris, James Lee, Tiara Ming, Jahneka Samuels, Patrice Ray and Joann Nichols.

“Also, Jazzy Boutique and everyone who has congratulated me and sent well wishes; they haven’t gone unnoticed and are much appreciated.”

Ultimately, she wants Rochelle Nicole to operate as a full-time business and is looking for investors or partners to help make that happen.

“This is my calling. I’m finally accepting it. It’s been a journey and I now accept the gift. I do custom pieces for people, but I also want to run my own brand.

“I want to take this full time. I see myself at Saks [Fifth Avenue], at Selfridges. I want to go global and establish myself in New York, in London, in Bermuda.”

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Taking part in New York Fashion Week will take her one step closer to that dream.

“I worked backstage for Fashion Scout, which is a subsidiary to London Fashion Week, so I know what it’s like, but when it’s your own show, when it’s your baby, that’s when emotion is attached.

“You get excited. It’s a designer’s dream. I never expected it this soon. Most people launch their collection and then have to work [for years] to get there. I’ve been blessed.”

Look for Rochelle Nicole on Instagram: Rochelle_Nicole. Contact Rochelle Minors on e-mail: info@rochellenicole.co.uk. Her website, rochellenicole.co.uk, is currently under construction

New York Fashion Week runs September 6 to 14. Learn more at nyfw.com/new-york-fashion-week-the-shows

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