Hi. I’m Shawnelle Cherry and I’ve been sewing for as long as I can remember. In grade school, all I could think about was fabrics and creating new designs. I sewed all my own clothes back then, learning more and more with each garment. During my junior and senior years of high school, I attended a trade school for clothing construction, and spent my senior year working in a tailor shop learning about alterations, tailoring and fit which sent me on a trajectory of turning my passion for fashion and sewing into a lifelong career. First, as a fashion designer and then as a costume designer in the film business.
After High School, I was off to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). College was a blast! I spent my summers working in the LA garment district and loved being creative and having outrageous fun with my clothing designs! This experience laid the groundwork for my costume design career (my favorite genre is comedy films).
After graduating FIDM, I worked at an upscale boutique in Los Angeles where I saved sales through my alteration skills. This led to the boutique owner referring clients to me, so many so, that I opened my own studio in Pacific Palisades several years later. As one thing led to another, I ended up designing outfits for the Hollywood establishment. My gowns were worn to the Oscar’s, Emmy’s, Golden Globes and other high end parties and soirees. My line was popular among some well-known Soap Opera stars who frequently ended up in the “Dress for Success” pages of some popular magazines.
For ten years I was non-stop designing high fashion and beginning to feel a bit of burnout creeping in. It was time for a change. Costume Design was my next pursuit. I embraced the stress and frantic deadlines, and with my sewing skills, I was able to get myself out of last minute jams and not have to rely on seamstresses to step in. UCLA was a saving grace along my Costume Design path. It was here that I found a helpful program, “Set Up Shoot and Strike.” This class taught me the nuts and bolts of working on sets, and working with actors and directors. Additionally, I volunteered on student films for several years while operating my own studio. Another helpful course that influenced my career was “Flash Forward,” which teaches those in the film industry how to pursue your goals. It is in this course where I met my first film team.
Dating Duty was my first feature film and it was a doozy! There were 53 outfit changes for the main character alone and many other changes for the other principles, including two weddings and several parties! This was a big project for a newbie like me, but I had the skills to get it done! As a bonus, many of the gowns I created for the soap opera stars were a perfect match for this script, and they made it into my costume line up! From this initial film team, I went on to another film, then another…. that was 20 years ago and 31 movies under my belt listed on IMDB (International Movie Data Base). In addition to movies, I have costumed video shoots, commercials and photo shoots. My personal goal is to design just two more feature films (33 is my lucky number), then retire from film projects while still remaining an active member in the Costume Designers Guild because of my passion for the craft and hanging out with my peers.
Many businesses took a hit with the 2009 recession, and the film industry in Los Angeles was no exception. There were many film incentives being offered in Atlanta and North Carolina, so I welcomed the opportunity to move east. I fell in love with the quaint town of Mooresville, North Carolina, where several television shows and features were being filmed, and decided to plant roots here. I also noticed that this cute little town did not have a sewing school, and since I don’t have children of my own to pass along my talents, I decided to open a school, hence Future Fashion Designers (FFD) was born! I must have taught thousands of children (and hundreds of parents too) how to sew! It’s so rewarding to watch them discover and excel at their new talent!
Moving to Mooresville and opening a fashion/sewing school was a great career move, it proved to be a fantastic personal decision as well. It is here where I met the love of my life, my soulmate, Mike, whom I married in 2016. Like me, Mike loves to have fun, hang out with friends, throw crazy themed parties and enjoy beautiful Lake Norman. He’s an eager participant in all my crazy-themed events like the Mac-n-Cheese Cook-Off, the Great Chili Cook-Off, various fashion shows and any other crazy events I cook up to promote FFD….Mike’s always on board. And speaking of boards, Mike operates “Moose Paddleboards” here in Mooresville, a standup paddle board rental business. He also has a “real” job with UPS!
This year, I also began offering sewing classes online, allowing me more time to work on new projects and to take off to expand my creativity. Camp Sew Social came about after I had found a sleepover sewing camp (didn’t even know they existed!) and had my friend Karen on board to attend with me, we were so excited! But, then found out that it was full and they had us in a lottery to get the remaining few spaces. Sadly, neither one of us got in and that’s when I thought… I will do one myself! Soon after, I discovered what would be our camp headquarters, the Azalea Retreat, an amazing custom built, log cabin on the shores of Lake Norman just minutes from my home! So, Mike and I decided to do a first class, deluxe fashion sewing camp! Yes! A posh, upscale sewing sleepover camp for adults who love to have fun, laugh and be creative.
Please check out our schedule and give us a ring if you have any questions.
We hope you will join us for our first Camp Sew Social!