Chasity Sereal has come a long way from learning to sew from YouTube. The self-taught Houston designer, who obsessively watched videos and begged her mom for a Brother machine, launched her own couture brand in 2016. Now, the 29-year-old mom of two has a small space of her own and multiple runway shows under her belt—including two at New York Fashion Week.
She's known for her wedding gowns and evening wear in all number of colors, covered in fun appliqués like small flowers or hand-beaded pearls. She's created custom prom dresses for high-schoolers, appeared on local news, and has even dressed celebs for the red carpet—Paul Wall's wife, Crystal, wore one of Sereal's jumpsuits to the Grammys in 2016.
Houstonia caught up with the designer on the heels of Enchanted Botanicals, her first solo bridal show that featured colorful, unconventional designs for the non-traditional bride.
On how she prepares for her shows:
“With a lot of coffee. The week of, I’m pretty much all over the place and I’m in a panic. I’ll have fabric all over my floor because I’m still creating things. But the day of, my team has to really hone in and take over because my mind is all over the place. There have been times where I haven’t had my hair or makeup done because I felt like when I was sitting down, there was something else I should be doing.”
On her approach to non-traditional bridal:
“I did the Bridal Extravaganza at the George R. Brown Convention Center, and there were so many brides who came up to my booth because I had a dress on display that was not white. It was confirmation for me. I feel like you shouldn’t have to conform to society’s standards of what a bride should wear. Stay true to you.”
On her boyfriend’s surprise proposal at the Enchanted Botanicals show:
“After my models walked, I walked out down the runway with my daughters to take a bow. My now-fiancé had some flowers, took the mic, and got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. Everyone knew it was going to happen except for me. You should’ve seen the look on my oldest daughter's face: She looked like she was the one getting proposed to.”
On her custom prom dresses:
“That has definitely evolved over the years, and it’s become more and more extravagant. I think it’s because of social media and how everyone wants to go viral or be reposted. That’s what my girls say: ‘Make me go viral!’ The first year, I think I made four dresses, and then it just took off after that. I was really excited.”
On using social media to build her brand:
“I feel like social media is the modern day business card. I’m lucky to have a great team who stays on me and makes sure I’m consistent with what I post and how I post and my target audience and hashtagging, because people do find me a lot through the hashtag #HoustonFashionDesigner.”
“My first show was in 2015 and that was the best experience of my life because I’ve always wanted to go to New York and it was everything I imagined. I was calm—I didn’t get sleep, that’s why I was calm. I had to bring my sewing machine to New York to finish sewing dresses. I think I finished my last dress at 5 in the morning and I had to be at the event space at 10. I sent the dresses down and everyone loved it. The second time, I had more of a game plan. We stayed a little bit longer and we got to go to other shows to network. As for my show, there were a lot of people; it was super crowded.”
On her kids:
“My daughters are 10 and 5, but they act so old. I’m not ready for them to be teenagers, especially the youngest one. She bosses around her oldest sister—she kind of bosses me around, too. I see a fashion designer in my oldest. I used to draw—and I still do time to time, but not as much—and when I was her age and older, I would watch TV, pause it, and sketch out the person that I was looking at. She does the exact same thing now. I don’t want to push it on them, but if it develops within them, of course I’ll nurture that. I’ll nurture whatever they want to do. It’s very important for me to be a supportive mom. Being a mother has taught me not to give up.”
On her favorite design:
“It’s a leather woven dress I made for a collection called the Lady Godiva collection, which was in 2017. It was all hand-done. The leather was hand-painted and hand-woven. The flowers on it were inspired by hydrangeas. That was also my first time working with leather, period. It was kind of a task, but I really enjoyed it. I would like to take that whole silhouette and create a whole collection out of it.”
On advice for burgeoning designers:
“I would just tell them: ‘What’s stopping you? Go for it.’ Go in with a game plan, make sure you know your target market, and make sure you know what your brand is going to represent.”
On if Beyoncé wore one of her designs:
“I would pass out and I would bawl my eyes out. Now that—that is an accomplishment. I admire that woman so much. I’m gonna ask her if she will.”