County designer wins Belk contest

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Regina White tried to run away from her dream job, but it found her anyway.

As a young girl in Fayetteville, N.C., White enjoyed making sketches of wedding dresses and dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. When she received her first sewing machine as a 12-year-old, she decided that one day she’d create her own clothing line.

So White’s family and friends thought she was making a huge mistake when she put away her sketch books after high school and decided to pursue a college degree in speech pathology.

Knowing the cutthroat nature of the fashion industry, White figured she was doing the sensible thing by preparing for a career in which she could find a job and support herself. But during an internship prior to her senior year at North Carolina A&T University, White realized that her family and friends had been right all along.

“They knew that I had what it took to be successful in fashion,” said White, who went back to school after getting her speech pathology degree and earned a second degree in fashion marketing and merchandising from the Art Institute of Charlotte. “Eventually I realized that I couldn’t fight it.”

Now 32 with three children, White’s career received a major boost when she was recently selected as one of 13 winners of Belk’s Southern Designer Showcase competition.

Beginning in spring 2014, White’s line of handbags will be sold both in select Belk department stores around the country and on the Charlotte-based company’s website.

White’s husband, Darrell, believes that winning the Belk contest will be a “very good starting platform” for her design career.

“It justifies her existence in the fashion world,” he said. “I definitely look at it as something that will help her get to the next level.”

White began designing handbags about eight years ago when she and Darrell, an Army veteran, were still living in North Carolina. They moved to Chesterfield in 2010 when Darrell accepted a position teaching military science at the University of Richmond.

White sells the handbags, jewelry and accessories in an online boutique, and works on new designs in her studio at home. She acknowledged that it’s difficult to get much done during the day while caring for a 2-yearold and 8-month-old (she also has an 8-yearold), so she often does her best work after the kids go to bed.

“Some nights, I’ll be working and then I’ll see the sun come up,” White said. “But it’s better than having a 9-to-5 job because I have more time for my family. I’m my own boss and I can decide when I want things to happen.”

White’s hard work earned her a trip back home to North Carolina, where she and 30 other finalists in the Belk design competition presented their collections last month to a panel of judges at the company’s headquarters.

A few weeks later, she received a phone call from Belk, informing her that one of the company’s vice presidents wanted to come to her home studio for a follow-up interview.Buy Cheap Michael Kors Satchel at Michael kors handbags outlet online store.

Instead of an “interview,” White opened her front door and found a camera crew. She was presented with flowers and told that she was one of the winners.

“It was like a Publisher’s Clearing House experience,” she recalled. “I was blown away. It was a very exciting time and it still is.”

Tara Haynes, one of White’s best friends for more than 25 years, recognized long ago that White had the talent to make it in the fashion industry.

Haynes told her about the design competition and encouraged her to enter.

“It’s what I said when she first applied: ‘There’s a time and place for everything, and this is your time to go forward,’” Haynes said. “I definitely think this lit a fire under her and gave her a push in the right direction.”

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