VACHERIE — Instead of shopping for a prom dress, Amaya Johnson of Vacherie decided to create one herself.
The result was a dazzling blue mermaid-style gown with a rhinestone neckline and an elegant train.
Johnson picked up a sewing machine for the first time at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown. With sewing classes closed during the pandemic, she relied on YouTube tutorials and a lot of trial and error to learn a skill that will guide her through the rest of her life.
Johnson started her business, Exclusive Kreationz, at 16 years old in July 2020. Now 18 years old and graduating from St. James High School, Johnson is embarking on a new journey at Southern University, where she plans to study business management and fashion design.
“I absolutely loved sewing from the beginning. When my sewing machine came in, I started learning about different techniques and different fabrics. It wasn’t always easy, but I like the learning process and having full creative control of what I’m doing,” Johnson said.
Johnson started out making reversible satin hair bonnets, hair scrunchies and ruffled socks. From there, she expanded her horizons to alterations such as sewing fringes onto pants, turning regular jeans into skinny jeans, hemming clothes, and taking in dresses at the waist. When Mardi Gras rolled around, she created jumpsuits for a couple of the local krewes.
Johnson’s prom dress was her first handmade, full-length gown. She wanted to design a dress that would make a statement while also being attainable for a beginner to sew. Cinderella’s sparkling gown was her inspiration as she took on a new sewing challenge.
Johnson created her dress over the course of three months during her free time between school, band practice and work. There were a couple of broken needles involved, and at times it seemed like the fabric and the machine were fighting against each other. It was all worth it in the end, and she even learned to hand sew while working on the rhinestone piece that hangs in the front of the gown.
“I knew I wanted to make my own prom dress. Even as a kid, when I would go into stores and look for dresses for balls, I would never find anything that I liked,” Johnson said. “This was the beginning to see if I could do it. I have a business already, but I want to start a bigger one. I want to make prom dresses, formal gowns and wedding dresses. I also want to make other things like casual wear, jeans, homecoming style dresses, dresses for little girls, jumpsuits. I want a whole brand.”
Johnson’s mother, Sakina Alexander, is proud of her creativity.
“She’s different from the average student,” Alexander said. “She is a leader in just about everything she does. She wants to start the trend instead of following the trend. I like that independence about her.”
Expanding her fashion design business isn’t the only thing Johnson has to look forward to at Southern University.
Band has been another passion for Johnson over the past six years. Serving as drum major during her junior and senior years, she has led the St. James marching band to numerous awards, including three superior ratings this past weekend at Six Flags over Georgia.
After obtaining numerous academic and band scholarship offers from 20 colleges, Johnson has decided to join Southern University’s world-famous Human Jukebox Marching Band.
Johnson has won drum major, leadership and most improved student awards at St. James High School. She’s an honor roll scholar currently earning college credits in dual enrollment courses, and she was among the nominees for 12th grade student of the year.
For more information about Johnson’s fashion business, email [email protected], visit exclusivekreationz.bigcartel.com, or search for exclusive.kreationz on Instagram.