Black Expo Designer Spotlight: KoKo Brown

Photo by Julie Valentine

The Indiana Black Expo Inc. Summer Celebration Fashion Show is an annual event that will showcase 14 designers and boutiques from around the United States. For the Expos’ 48th year, attendees can expect to see lots of edgy looks. Nicole Freeman, Executive Producer of the Fashion Show, said everything from street couture to elegant couture will be shown, along with handmade leather pieces and fun accessories. “I just think this is probably going to be one of the best shows that we’ve done,” Freeman said. The show will take place at the Indiana Convention Center’s Entertainment Stage at 4:30pm on July 21, 2018. This series of stories highlights designers, boutiques and creatives that will be participating in this year’s Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration Fashion Show.

Chokolate by KoKo Brown Designs

“I would love to see Indiana embrace a higher level of creativity.”

Kimberly Brown, or KoKo Brown, is a local fashion designer who created a collection to be showcased at the Indiana Black Expo Fashion show on July 21. She describes her target audience for “Chokolate by KoKo Brown” as, “the sassy, sexy, sophisticated woman who doesn’t mind stepping out of the box.”

Brown first learned to sew as a 15-year-old when her grandmother developed arthritis. She taught her to use her sewing machine, with the purpose of hemming pants. Eventually Brown’s passion for sewing began to grow, her creative family caught on, and they bought her her own sewing machine. As her love for sewing continued to grow, she chose to pursue an education in fashion in Chicago. This is when she realized, she would not let go of her dream of being a fashion designer.

Returning to Indianapolis after college, she is currently designing and doing custom work for clients.

Brown always begins her creative process by sketching. “Sketches will always be my first love,” she explains. Putting her ideas on paper helps brings them to life. Next she chooses her models. This helps with more inspiration as well, envisioning her ideas based on their shapes and sizes. Fabric selection comes next. Textiles can easily take an idea into a completely different direction, whether online or in-store, and Brown adapts accordingly. The last step in the process is sewing the look together. “Everything has to fit the picture of what I’m going for, so I make sure that everything has that vibe within it,” Brown says.

Being a part of the long-running Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration Fashion Show has been a “blessing.” Brown also admires the direction Executive Producer Nicole Rene is trying to take the show, extending the event and trying to bring more fashion consciousness to Indianapolis.

“I think there are definitely big opportunities here, it’s just about getting that vision out there so that the people can learn to grow and accept it. There are so many creative people in Indianapolis, and it’s so under the radar,” Rene says. “If you keep doing the same thing, people aren’t going to keep coming out. You have to do something different.”

Brown says her inspiration comes from everywhere: music, people, culture, etc. “There is nothing a creative mind can’t look at and draw inspiration from.” Her current collection for the Indiana Black Expo Fashion Show is inspired by Grace Jones.

Chokolate by KoKo Brown Designs

“I just loved her freedom, the creative nature of her, how nothing was off limits.” When Brown thinks of Grace Jones, she thinks of freedom. “It’s all over the place with freedom, elegance, beauty. Those are the key points that I want to show for my pieces this collection.”

Her goal is to launch a website to expand her sales and clientele. Down the line, she would like to move toward selling clothing wholesale. “There’s just a lot of work that needs to be done,” Brown says, “But I’m taking it one step at a time.”

Brown’s biggest advice to other creatives is, “Don’t give up and have fun with your creativity.”

Follow Kimberly or KoKo Brown to see more of her designs:
Instagram: @ChokolatebyKoKoBrown
Facebook: @ChokolatebyKoKoBrown

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