Today we’d like to introduce you to Shukura Porter.
Hi Shukura, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
I was born and raised here in Charlotte. When I was young around 4, my parents introduced me to pageantry. Competed up to nationals, I was the first Little Mrs. North Carolina in the first annual MLK parade in Charlotte. Mom literally made every dress I wore, she was one of the most fashionable people I knew. Mom is from Jamaica so her style and color combinations were always different. One day mom decided to show me how to sew and while she’s knitting a sweater for me, I’m sewing a pillow by hand.
As time went by in middle school I decided to be a heart surgeon so I was involved with everything medical, even went to a tech high school for the beginner medical courses as a senior. Every day, I found myself doodling models and sketching outfits while learning medical terminology, I ended up being a part of a sewing club I found at school. My parents had a close friend from Africa that made wedding dresses, I enjoyed working with her to design and she loved my ideas. During my minors in college, I decided that I do not want someone’s life in my hands and changed course because I just couldn’t get away from fashion.
Years went by in college to earn my degree in fashion design and merchandising, one of my major projects was to style models and put together an in-store fashion show. The first celeb I met was Ronde Barber from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When I moved back to Charlotte I interned with one of the biggest fashion shows running at the time in 2013. Later ended up as back-of-house director for another major show called, Fashion D’Lux in 2015 and 2016, I have owned my own show, The Fashion Excursion LLC.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
OH NO! The funny thing is that the signs in my life had me ride and conquer plan B with different potholes and stop signs first, only to turn around and experience plan A with green lights and seldom speed bumps. God knew what would be easier for me, I wasn’t ready nor prepared for my first plan and it wasn’t his first plan for me. It’s easier for me to get certain things done and have fewer problems because of me being well known. If I would have taken plan A, it would have been harder for me to grow from the ground up, people do not connect well to the unknown.
It’s sad the racial issues and me not being taken seriously about my business. One of the venue’s events managers told me that another black fashion producer did a terrible job with clean up and everything was terrible. She hopes that I’m not related to the producer and that people believe me for who I am to show up. My father happened to be with me to see the venue and he said, “excuse me, but how dare you speak about my daughter like that, and what makes you think she is related to the other young man?!”
Another incident was with a major fashion brand in the mall, we were scheduled to have our pre-VIP party inside their store just as we did with Kendra Scott and had a great time. the general manager of the store allowed all of the caucasian and Asian guests in the store to have champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and shop. All the while she was caught on camera not allowing the African American guests to enter for the event.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I am the CEO and founder of The Fashion Excursion LLC, an annual fashion show created in April 2016. Showcasing high-end brands such as Saks 5th Ave, Nordstrom, and others. Also showcasing high-caliber local and national designers. This show manages over 50 backstage members, minimum of 75 models, and a minimum of 400 attendees. We also extend our services for those who are emerging designers who want to have their own fashion show or collection party.
The Fashion Excursion is dedicated to giving back to the community, not only through philanthropy but time spent while putting the effort into learning, sharing, and actively working with different charities each show. The Breast Cancer Society, The Lupus Foundation are just to name a few, we delight in making connections and bless others through the love of fashion while being the vessel on a big platform.
I am proud to say that my brand stands out from others and is also known for having shows at venues no other brand has touched in Charlotte. For having the best music and just the atmosphere itself is different. Before the pandemic we have broken the record in May 2019 for the longest runway in the southeast at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden of Belmont NC, 150ft long.
I personally apart from the show have traveled to London Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week to produce other shows for well-known designers, for example, designer Premal Badiani of Badiani New York and designer Rutu Bhonslé. I am also a fashion designer and working on a new as of right now. My brand Shukura Oni has released two shoe lines this year.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
The amount of criticism in the fashion world and the challenges of rising above the status quo can be overwhelming. Honestly networking to me is the first step to finding the right mentor. Getting your foot through the door and in the room with people who are actually successful within the profession you seek is more effective than only surrounding yourself with like-minded people who have a dream but have never seen the journey.
In my opinion, not every mentor has to be someone you look up to or admire although that’s wonderful, it’s about learning the business; the realism of the industry. Networking can help you understand who the leaders are and their roles, it helps you learn more about yourself and give answers to your path on how to get started.
I interned with a local fashion show production after college, knowing that my end goal is to be a well-known designer. As for the CEO, I was interning with she did not have a passion for the art of fashion or design like myself, she only had the passion for fashion because of money. I did not see her as a mentor, yet someone who I knew had power in the industry locally and I was able to network during each event.
I was in the room with designers who were my real mentors I looked up to and admired, they were sharing information to help me and stories to each me of my mistakes. My internship was a stepping stone to put me in the right surroundings with the successful, I’ve been climbing ever since. It’s not about the room, it’s the people in the room that matters with networking.
Also, one thing to remember is that a true mentor will NEVER see you as a conflict of interest, but as an extension of their legend. There’s more than enough for everyone to eat out here, don’t allow anyone to hold you back.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.thefashionexcursion.com
- Instagram: The Fashion Excursion
- Facebook: The Fashion Excursion
Todd Youngblood, Ben Joyner, Cameron English, Murphy Photography, and Don Porter