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Deep down in her heart, Lovindia Yelverton always knew she was a fashion designer. Yet, she only learned to sew four years ago.
“I always felt like I was sewing in my head, but I never picked up a machine. Never sewed a day in my life, but I always wanted to sew. My entire family knows how to sew, but somehow I never got into it. I didn’t know where to start.”
For years, she suppressed that voice, choosing instead to follow a safer route, complete with a corporate job. Still, Yelverton’s creative spirit manifested in other ways, including a cake baking business. But she soon realized that she wasn’t fulfilled.
“I thought that was the closest I’d get to designing and crafting, just being creative. I was excited to finally be doing something with my hands, but I still wasn’t happy. It just wasn’t enough. It just wasn’t working.”
Following a divorce and life transition, Yelverton, who lives in Bailey, finally decided to act on what her heart already knew. She researched sewing machines, fabrics and techniques. But unlike generations of seamstresses and designers before her, Yelverton did not learn to sew from her mother, grandmother or even an apprenticeship. She learned by watching YouTube, especially online sewing instructor and influencer Mimi G.
“I started YouTubing her videos while I’m sitting at work. Got no sewing machine yet. I’m watching like, ‘This seems pretty easy. I’m going to be able to follow along,’” she said. “I got my sewing machine, and I’m missing sleep, excited. I didn’t want to go to sleep. I didn’t want to go work. I just wanted to get up and just practice, practice, practice. I was so determined to learn everything about sewing.”
Though she knew she was supposed to sew, it was not a seamless learning curve.
“I’d get frustrated, and sometimes I couldn’t even follow the videos. So I’d rewind, rewind. But today, there’s no looking back.”
Soon enough, Yelverton began creating custom African-print skirts, enlisting friends to model and promote them on social media. The response was overwhelming, and took her by surprise. She’s even created pieces for celebrities, including singer Syleena Johnson and Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts.
“I wanted to bring those skirts to smaller cities, and that’s exactly what I did. I almost got burned out, though.”
Her style, which she describes as “laid back and put together,” resonated with women who wanted trendy, yet comfortable pieces.
“I just believe we can be so cute and covered all the way up. You can still show off your body, but in a modest way.”
At the end of 2016, Yelverton made another leap as a full-time entrepreneur. This enabled her not only to more consistently work on her craft, it also gave her the flexibility to help as a caretaker for her mother, who has multiple sclerosis. While it has not been easy, she said her faith, work ethic and loyal clientele have been essential to her success.
“It’s all God,” Yelverton said. “God had been dealing with me for a while. Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s hard. But I’ve been pushing through, and I’ve seen a lot of good things happening.”
Yelverton said she encourages others to listen to and believe in themselves, and to tune out people who do not see or support their dreams and vision.
“This is a lot of my peace, but a lot of people won’t understand. But it’s a really good ride.”