01 Jun Showcasing Fashion Creative, Brittany Duke, Turning her Community Service Project into a Business
As it is difficult to predict the future of fashion during these unprecedented times, it’s important to highlight the talent that is within our community. In this community, we have such artistic individuals who are immensely gifted, wanting to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Luckily, with the help of the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative, Style Lush TV, and the faculty at the University of the Incarnate Word Fashion Department, one student is able to get her start. Brittany Duke, a senior at the University of the Incarnate Word, has always wanted to pursue fashion but didn’t know exactly what direction she wanted to go in. Thanks to the help of Lalon Alexander and Teresa Alexander, two professors who really had an impact on her studies, they helped push Duke in the right direction. With the help of her mentors, fashion artists, and local businesses, Duke hopes that the future of fashion can have a place to take off here in San Antonio.
“We want the voices of young individuals who are passionate in fashion to be heard.” – Brittany Duke
SLTV: Hey there Brittany, I am so excited to be featuring you for my first student showcasing. I want to know who is Brittany Duke?
BD: My name is Brittany Duke, I am currently a full-time student at the University of the Incarnate Word and I am majoring in fashion product development. I’ve always had a love for fashion starting from when I was nine years old. I have found myself analyzing different trends or playing with the idea of juxtaposition with clothing during my free time. Fashion is an art, and if I am able to combine trendy every day looks in an artistic way, I’m gonna do it. I don’t really know who I am in San Antonio, but there’s nothing wrong not knowing, especially if I already know who I want to be.
SLTV: Tell me why are you decide so tell me why are you decide to go into Product development as compared to all other fashion and non-fashion related fields?
BD: I feel that product development is the best of both worlds, you get the business side of it as well as a creative side of it. I am able to input my own creativity, personal style, and ideas I may have at the forefront. On top of it all, I enjoy being involved in the manufacturing aspect of the business and the mass merchandising aspect. I’m able to get a taste of both business and fashion.
SLTV: The main reason why I want to interview you, it’s because you found a need in the community by creating facemasks due to high demand. So, what made you start this business?
BD: Well initially started off as a community service project I needed to earn service hours for school. I begin by creating facemasks for a company called Gulf Tex Oil and Gas. After I finished up with their order, I decided to make masks for my friends and family that were still working during this time. I started posting them on my Instagram and received a lot of positive feedback about them! I was so excited because people were wanting to purchase what I was making! Finishing up with all the donation masks for the various projects I was doing, I decided to sell them. At first, I began my mini business through Instagram, but after a while, I felt that the messages were just getting lost in my DM’s. That’s when I decided to move over to Poshmark.
BD: The masks that I am creating are made from whatever textiles and fabrics I have at home. All the masks that I make are customizable to whatever fabric, pattern, stitch color that you may want. I wanted to make sure that my product worked and would fit the need of my customers. These masks I’ll comply with the CDC guidelines and pass the lighter test. Due to the delay in orders for materials, I had to get creative with items I was using while making these masks. All those a bit difficult, this definitely challenged me to work in creative ways and think outside the box when it came to the materials are used. It was crazy how after posting my work, the number of people who reached out wanting to get a mask from me!
SLTV: How many hours would you say that you put in this project in the beginning with it being a volunteer project as compared to now?
BD: I probably put in about 25 hours doing about 35 masks and that definitely increased as my demand got higher. I start from the beginning of the cutting process to the construction to the measurements of the elastic, then to whatever customization the client is looking for.
SLTV: What is the difference between your face masks as opposed to other facemasks that you may buy from a store from a local designer or even from your friends’ mom?
BD: I feel like mine looks really good! Make sure that the masks I make follow what my aesthetic as a brand would be. I like very classic and timeless looks, but with a hint of a modern trend and a little bit of edge. These masks have a specific type of construction, which I use the Olsen pattern, you are able to fit N95 masks in them, they are reversible, water-resistant, comfortable, and fully functional. I make all my orders to whatever color schemes the client might be looking for, patterns they would prefer, it’s really just more of a customizable project for each client. I want to be able to make this mask as an accessory as opposed to regulation. If this is a new standard that we are going to have to obey too, I want to make sure they’re functional yet fashionable.
SLTV: With COVID-19 being on everyone’s mind for the past couple of months, are you going to continue business after we are told that we don’t have to wear masks anymore?
BD: As of right now, I am playing it by ear, as of right now I will continue on if they need still there. With this quarantine, I have become more creative with my future brand and I have some things in the works. I don’t really want to say right now exactly what I’m working on until I have my idea finalized, I just know it’s going to be exciting when I do release it.
SLTV: With many different industries that are affected due to this pandemic, fashion is one that we’ve heard a lot about in the news. What do you think it is important to pursue a career in fashion during these uncertain times?
BD: For me personally it’s important to pursue fashion because I can’t see myself doing anything else. The idea of working behind the desk on a 9-to-5 job does not seem like something I can do forever. On the tempers and where I can have a 12 hour day be exhausted and get back up and do it again the next day that’s how passionate I am about starting my career in the fashion industry.
SLTV: Would you give any tips for future fashion students who are wanting to start their careers here in Texas?
BD: All honesty just try everything, any opportunity that may come your way just do it, anything that may intimidate you because you may not have the skillset for it or because you may feel that you do not qualify for it do it. The worst that you can possibly do is not try.