It can be hard to tear the kids away from the cellphones, tablets and computers during the summer, but a North Texas woman’s free summer camp has not only drawn young people away from the electronics, but has also taught them a skill they can carry with them for a lifetime.
Uniquka Christian created the Student Innovators and Creators of New Style, Student ICONS for short. The youth fashion organization teaches sewing.
“I love fashion,” Christian said. “I started sewing when I was 8 years old. My mother actually introduced me to a needle and thread. As the years progressed, I had a family dynamic where they supported my craft. My dad got me my first sewing machine.”
As they say, the rest is history.
Christian is now sharing her love of fashion design with the next generation through her free summer camp.
Now in it’s fifth year, the camp has been focused on the concept of upcycling. It the process of taking something old and making it new again in a different design.
This year’s fashion show winner was given several prizes, including having their fashions displayed in the Fashion Den Boutique, just outside of Oak Cliff. This year’s winner was 14-year-old Mariah Johnson.
"Being a plus sized model, I wanted to tell other girls my size that you can wear anything you want to wear and feel confident in it," said Johnson.
Not only did she learn how to create in the class, but she also learned life skills, she says.
"It’s not just about sewing, but it’s also about building confidence and by doing that through wearing your own creations in our annual fashion show, for example. Also, public speaking! Being able to talk about your outfit and what your creation is. It’s essentially about learning to create and build your own fashion brands," Christian said.
It’s a summer camp Johnson said she will never forget.
"This has always been a dream to actually have a product in a store, and my outfits, so I’m really excited and happy."
The summer camp was held at the DeSoto Library. They received a grant to purchase sewing machines that Christian's campers used to create their designs.