Growing up, Sheila Abigail, a Port Lavaca seamstress, couldn’t find clothes that appealed to her taste.
At the time, Abigail, 25, worried about the dresses her grandmother made, from the colors to how big they looked to the people around her.
“That was amazing to me and I said, ‘I want to do that,'” she said. “She didn’t teach me herself, because when I found out she did that, she was too old.”
That led her to learn how to sew and make her own clothes, with a bolder, more colorful flavor to the store’s offerings, Abigail said. She often drew designs, and when she reached high school she took fashion design courses.
Abigail’s mother, Maria Solis, said: “She has little talent shows and makes things out of anything.” “The tablecloths are mostly (gone).”
But, until the outbreak began two and a half years ago, Abigail said, she turned her joy of making clothes into her business.
“Someone asked me to make a pillow for someone who died. They had some leftover clothes and they wanted me to make something out of the clothes for Christmas and put a little message on it,” she said. “It started there, and it brought her so much joy that I started doing it for other people.”
Before long, more people were asking her to use her talents, and it quickly turned into an auto-title business, doing alterations, custom designs and more, Abigail said.
She continues to grow her business and on Saturday she participated in her first fashion show, where she showed off many of her designs, which she says are loud and colorful, dresses that she thought of as a good idea as a child, but take into account the function.
Abigail’s childhood friend Kelly Farrah, a Los Angeles-based clothing stylist who has worked for magazines like Cosmopolitan, companies like Nike and some movies over the past five years, is especially proud of her.
“I think it’s amazing what you’re doing in Texas because I know how hard it is to bring fashion out there and market yourself,” Farrah said.
Texas often lags behind fashion trends, she said, as residents often find something comfortable in their daily lives, such as fisherman or western wear. Many people in LA dress boldly and use fashion to express who they are.
“To bring that kind of feeling to Texas, but in a more comfortable way, that’s what Sheila is trying to do, and I think that’s amazing,” Farah said.
Having more designers like Abigail in places like Texas, who are bold in designing with function in mind, is critical to the growth of the fashion industry as a whole, she says. The industry has emphasized sustainability in recent years, but designers across the country put functionality at the forefront to help fashion move forward.
One example of this is the black dress Abigail made of swimwear that, despite its color, is breathable and keeps the wearer cool in the hot and humid climate of South Texas.
Abigail and Farah will soon collaborate on a professional clothing line, and Farah is excited to work with her friend on the launch.
No matter how much she grows, one thing Abigail plans to do is keep her designs as affordable as possible, remembering that the designs she likes are mass-produced but extremely expensive, Abigail said.
So much of the industry’s success is based on word of mouth, and Abigail is excited to see her grow from exposure, Farah said. She encourages anyone with an idea from a custom work perspective or simply that says something about them to reach out and give Abigail the opportunity to create something wonderful for them.
Kyle Cotton was born and raised in San Antonio and graduated from San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Arlington. Cotton is covered in economic development, health care, finance, government, technology, oil and gas, and higher education.