Once a year, Belk hosts a design contest that spans both the South and the multiple categories they sell in their department stores. Emerging designers in men’s, women’s and children’s fashion and shoes and women’s accessories applied, resulting in 19 finalists. Two of those finalists are from the Charlotte area.
Kimberlie Nguyen is the owner of Tie-My-Knot, a company that customizes, sells and rents bow ties. Kimberlie works alongside her business partner, Lerone Langston, to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the men’s fashion sector. Their bow ties are sourced, designed and made locally and are sold through their website and boutiques around the country.
Nguyen shared that she’s nervous (which is more than understandable) but has been grateful for the validation she’s received about TMK through becoming a finalist. “…It allows us to able to step out of our proverbial box. This is definitely a great stepping stone to position TMK in the world of retail,” she said.
The other Charlotte finalist, Suzette Bentley from Waxhaw, NC, is designer and owner of EB Jewelry Studio. Bentley’s bold designs definitely have a way of standing out among the handmade baubles we’re used to seeing. All of her handmade designs use the same techniques as heirloom and vintage jewelry, making them pieces that will last lifetimes. She makes her jewelry for women to pass down through generations.
Bentley sells in shops all over Charlotte, online and at markets and pop-up shops, but the chance to have her designs sold in Belk stores across the country is a move she’s been ready to make. Similarly to Nguyen, she was hugely motivated to enter the showcase by the doors it could open.
Last year’s five showcase winners were given the chance to sell their lines in Belk stores and online. The 2016 finalists will present on May 19 and winners will be notified by May 31. Their lines will be sold in spring 2017.