By Cara Winkley
Brittany Davidson has been into fashion her whole life; literally. At the age of three, Brittany’s grandmother taught her how to sew. As she grew up, she became more and more into fashion and by age seven she was already starting to design.
When Davidson was 16, she received a scholarship through Pen State to study fashion and French at American University in Paris for a summer. After summer she returned home, graduated high school and started her first semester of college at Savannah College of Art and Design. After one semester she transferred to American Intercontinental University in London. There she studied fashion design and marketing. Davidson liked AIU’s hands-on teaching method and more traditional approach to dressmaking compared with SCAD.
After finishing her studies, Davidson came back to Kansas and started her company, BMDesigns in 2009. She designs and sells seasonal collections as well as one-of-a-kind pieces you can only order through her.
“It was extremely hard to get started and it takes a lot of time, work and dedication; but I wouldn’t have it any other way” Davidson said.
In addition to managing BMDesigns, Davidson bought a local children’s store that had gone under three years ago in Overland Park. The children’s store, Chocolate Soup, sells other designer brands, but Davidson plans to eventually sell her own children’s line under the Chocolate Soup name. Until then, Davidson juggles both businesses on a daily basis.
“The fashion industry is extremely competitive and until you have manufacturer backing, it is designing, making and selling one piece at a time” Davidson said.
The inspiration for her designs comes from her first-hand experiences traveling and exploring other cultures. She markets her clothing as having a European flair. She also gets inspiration from the streets as well as old-fashioned research. Another way she creates her designs is to take something old and modernize it to make it new.
Davidson describes her designs as classic silhouettes with a modern twist. Her target customers are stylish individuals in the 20 to 40 year old range.
“They are more affluent and the way they dress is important to them, they want something unique but still fashionable” Davidson said.
These individuals are always on the go and need clothing that can carry over from work to a night out on the town, she said.
Davidson has shown her designs in many local fashion shows including Kansas City Fashion Week and St.Louis Fashion Week. This coming season she will be showing in Plitz’s New York Fashion Week in addition to Omaha Fashion Week.
Jennifer Hermon, a fashion beauty blogger in the Kansas City area, attended this year’s KCFW where Davidson showed off her latest collection.
“She knows what it takes to show a collection on the runway” Hermon said.
Davidson’s favorite moment so far as a designer is the moment her designs walk down the runway.
“All the stress, all the time, all the panic or tears, all the effort is for those five minutes on the runway- and it’s completely worth it” Davidson said.
Davidson works 24/ 7 because she loves what she does. Not only is she a hard and successful worker, but Erin Barnes, a local fashion blogger, describes Davidson as “another sweetheart you can’t help but like.”
Being a designer has its perks – parties, photo shoots, runway shows, hairstylists and make-up artists – but in no way is it glamorous.
“What the public sees is only about one percent of what a designer does, most my days are spent in my studio by myself with three dogs sewing, draping or designing” Davidson said.
Even though being a designer may be hard and very time consuming, her advice to other designers is not to quit.
“No matter who tells you you can’t do it, if it’s what you love then keep trying” Davidson said.
Her ultimate goal for BMDesigns is to get her designs into department stores one day. Until then, she hopes to continue to grow as a designer and as a company and brand each season.
“I couldn’t imagine having any other job,” said Davidson. “So, I know I am extremely fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living.”
KU students share their thoughts on BMDesigns
Andrea Banner: Hi, my name is Andrea Banner and I’m from San Diego, California. The dress with the yellow and white stripes that she’s wearing the sparkly heels with; I really like that dress because it’s really classy and simple. Nowadays, you are seeing a lot of the scandalous, revealing dresses so I really like how classic this looks.
Addie Polk: I’m Addie Polk, and I’m from Wichita. I’m looking at a few of these designs. It has a lot of colors on it – fall colors and it’s like a half-short half-dress thing. It’s probably a little too wild for my taste, but I do like it for the runway.
Jeremiah Karczewski: I am Jeremiah Karczewski. I’m looking at the picture of the gentleman and I think that I might wear that shirt. Never by itself though like he’s wearing it. I don’t care how hot it is outside.
Claire Breslin: I’m Claire Breslin. First one’s a little funky, it’s different. I feel like it’s definitely chic, I guess. It looks very runway.
Kacey Eaton: I’m Kasey Eaton. I’m from Wichita Kansas. I’m a senior this year. The dress is blue and yellow and it looks like spring again and the heels are super cute. You could also wear it to a picnic.
Chantelle Johnson: My name’s Chantelle Johnson and I’m from here in Lawrence Kansas. The first design with the peacock feathers reminds me of high fashion. It may be something you’d wear to a really glamorous party. I really like the peacock feathers. I feel like the feathers are coming back in style.