Elegant, yet edgy, creations by Terese Brown ’07 are drawing national attention. Owner and creative director of Philadelphia-based Terese Sydonna Contemporary Women’s Design, Brown was a finalist for Project Runway seasons 10 and 11, a semi-finalist for NBC’s Fashion Starseason two, and was recently included in the Philadelphia Magazine “Fashion Project.”
“The greatest reward is starting this business from scratch, creating something with my own two hands,” says Brown, an economics & business and honors art graduate.
Her contemporary special-occasion clothing line is marketed to women of all ages.
“My dream is having the Terese Sydonna name become a lifestyle brand, carried in boutiques and specialty department stores throughout the world,” she says.
While Brown was attending Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned an associate of applied science degree in 2010, a friend commissioned her to design an ensemble, which she wore to an awards show.
“Women saw the pieces and began asking who Terese Sydonna was,” Brown recalls. “Suddenly I was designing for five women, and before long I had a regular network of women who supported my business.”
In 2011, Brown launched her first Terese Sydonna collection featuring couture and ready-to-wear pieces.
Brown manages an online retail operation and receives orders for custom pieces through social media. She plans to place her ready-to-wear line in selected boutiques this fall.
“It’s not always the most creative company that’s the most successful,” she says. “It’s about being the smartest, recognizing trends, knowing when to roll out items, and when to scale back.”
Brown had interned at Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs with a goal to work on Wall Street.
“It was not for me,” she says. “I wasn’t passionate enough about it to go through all that stress and pressure. If I’m going to work 15 hours a day, never seeing the sun, I better make sure I’m passionate about what I’m doing.”
She credits Gladstone Hutchinson, associate professor of economics, for recommending a semester abroad that changed her career goal. She interned in London in the merchandising department of global retailer French Connection.
“The experience really solidified my interest in working with fashion,” she says.
She also values the mentorship of Rose Marie Bukics, Jones Professor of Economics, with whom she stays in touch.
In turn, Brown mentors students through her work with Lafayette’s McDonogh Network as well as High School of Fashion Industries and recently included Lafayette students in a fashion show for a video about her.