Special Photo Lilburn residents Charlene Dunbar was named a winner in the 2013 Belk Southern Designer Showcase competition. She and 12 other winners will has their designs sold in select Belk stores and online.
LILBURN -- Lilburn resident Charlene Dunbar has her eye on fashion for awhile and uses influences from her Liberian roots.
"The feel overall is a contemporary Africa line," she said. "... With clean lines and feminine details like ruffles and draping in the right places. It's all about confidence and adventure."
Dunbar sells her clothes at boutiques and online at suakoko betty, but when her mother told her about a Belk competition, she felt the need to submit her pieces.
"My mom is a huge Belk fan," she said. "She's known my journey as an independent fashion desginer."
After making it through the rigorous application and elimination process, the designer was named one of the 13 winners announced in the second annual Belk Southern Designer Showcase competition earlier this month.
"It feels amazing ... because I've been through a lot of rejection, pining and hoping to be in a store like Belk," Dunbar said. "To have an opportunity like this feels a little is strange."
Discovering new Southern design talent and featuring their products in stores is a key element of Belk's Southern Designer Showcase competition. This year's designers offer new looks in women's apparel, jewelry, handbags and children's apparel.
"We are so excited to add these impressive designers to our Belk family," said Kathryn Bufano, president and chief merchandising officer for Belk. "This year's winners truly represent the 'Modern. Southern. Style.' that we deliver to our customers every day."
In 2012, 15 designers were chosen as winners of the inaugural competition and in spring 2013, their products launched in select Belk stores around the country and on belk.com.
"We are thrilled to be able to introduce new brands that represent the talented South and look forward to bringing these wonderful designs to our customers next year," said Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction for Belk.
Dunbar and the other 12 designers will display their pieces in the spring of 2014 in select stores and on Belk's website.
What's next for the Lilburn designer?
"To deliver on the Belk order," she said with a laugh. "Since winning, I've gotten great exposure. Now I'm just going to grow, grow, grow."