Meet the 14-year-old clothier from North Potomac

Meet the 14-year-old clothier from North Potomac
Carrying one among her personal designs, Chloe Ayissi-Etoh is surrounded by clothes she created in her at-home studio. Photograph by Michael Ventura

A yr in the past, Chloe Ayissi-Etoh didn’t know find out how to sew. However this spring, in a college auditorium filled with greater than 900 individuals, the teenager soaked in thunderous applause as a bona fide clothier.

In a purple costume she’d completed perfecting simply minutes earlier, Chloe adopted fashions who’d walked the stage at Walter Johnson Excessive Faculty in Bethesda in 9 appears from her first assortment, below her model chlolanà—a mix of her first identify and center identify, Alana.

For Chloe, an eighth grader on the time, the style present was a significant accomplishment. What made it much more spectacular was that she’d had simply 4 weeks to design, sew and match the attire, pants, shirts and corsets she’d sketched for varied physique varieties. The present was held throughout a retreat for the Minority Students Program, a bunch led by Montgomery County Public Colleges college students that’s working to shut the achievement hole.

“I didn’t have time to even sleep—I acquired between two and 4 hours an evening,” says Chloe, 14, who lives in North Potomac and attended Robert Frost Center Faculty in Rockville. “It was very hectic, but when I’m set on one thing, I’m going to do it no matter what anyone says and irrespective of how loopy it sounds.”

The style present was so effectively obtained that it earned an encore efficiency two months later as a part of Robert Frost’s fiftieth anniversary celebration. Robert Frost science instructor Sunila Varghese, who co-sponsors the college’s chapter of the Minority Students Program and has identified Chloe for 2 years, notes that the teenager managed two assistants and two make-up artists throughout the present, and in addition choreographed walks for the fashions, all fellow classmates.

“You could possibly hear a puff when the [audience] heard she was 14. My coronary heart was simply full,” Varghese says. “She’s a really shiny and proficient lady, and no matter she does, she’s a rock star at it.”

Chloe works on her designs in a basement storage room that she is changing into her stitching studio. Photograph by Michael Ventura

Chloe, a rising ninth grader at Wootton Excessive Faculty in Rockville, describes her aesthetic as primarily monochrome with a pop of coloration—“a combination of streetwear and stylish.” She attracts inspiration from trend manufacturers together with London designer Home of CB, identified for its figure-hugging items.

Chloe turned keen on trend in June 2021 after moving into thrift-store buying and watching TikTok movies about upcycling garments. She quickly began taking stitching classes from an aunt. Numerous hours on YouTube adopted as she soaked up stitching and trend terminology.

As soon as faculty began that fall, Chloe says, she not needed to put on sweats and hoodies to class. She rapidly turned identified for her personal designs, even incomes a “Greatest Dressed” award from fellow eighth graders in a scholar survey. “For some motive, I simply turned a fashionista,” she says. “I might go into my closet, take a look at some garments, put collectively an outfit, and it could prove wonderful.”

Simply because she’s not sporting sweats and hoodies within the hallways doesn’t imply Chloe by no means attire down. However even then, she says, she places a spin on her look. “Actually, it relies on my temper,” she says. “If I really feel additional that day, I’ll create a very additional outfit for that day at college—possibly spice issues up with some high-waisted flare pants and [a] turtleneck with an under-bust corset.”

Describing the method of deconstructing a garment as “stunning,” Chloe earlier this yr took out a zipper and ripped up the seams of a pair of stretchy pink shorts she purchased for $2 at a thrift retailer. She then  added interfacing and created an under-bust corset she generally wears to highschool over a white costume shirt. “My mother doesn’t like that I’ve such a giant obsession with corsets,” she admits.

Her mom, Katrina, 45, says she endures fixed trend recommendation from Chloe, her solely daughter amongst 4 kids. “She does ask if she will type and costume me, however I inform her, ‘No, get out of my closet. I’m tremendous,’ ” Katrina says. “However possibly this summer season I’ll ask her to make me a shirt.”

Chloe plans to change into a designer along with her personal line of middle- to high-end ready-to-wear clothes. She says she finds inspiration all over the place and remembers as soon as devising a color-blocked streetwear look from a ladder propped towards a wall in French class. She is changing a basement storage room at her house into a stitching studio with gentle pink partitions, white tables, a lot of inexperienced crops, and an indication bearing her model identify.

Katrina, in the meantime, is making an attempt to reconcile that the daughter she has seen hop from one passion to the following—although Chloe nonetheless likes to bake and prepare dinner—now appears dedicated to a future in trend. “The Lord should work in mysterious methods,” she says. “By no means did I see this one coming. … She loves what she does, and you may’t purchase that.”