For many people, hearing the word “cancer” brings their world to a grinding halt. Feelings of helplessness, fear, and distress can be overwhelming. But Caronah Cassell felt a different sensation – motivation. When Cassell was diagnosed with breast cancer, something within her awoke, pushing her to follow her dreams. Those dreams led to beautiful designs filled with color, excitement, and life. Her desire to share this zeal for life is shared in her garments – unexpected flashes of color, lively plumes of tulle, and curve-hugging metallics – all to help women feel the same about their bodies as Cassell feels about hers – thankful.
While cancer may have been the catalyst for Cassell to push her design company – Caronah Cassell Designs – forward, she knew at a young age that she wanted to make clothes. Perhaps this was influenced by her mother, who instilled a mantra she couldn’t forget.
CC: I’m from Providence, R.I., my parents are from Liberia, West Africa – Mr. & Mrs. Ernest & Berline Cassell. Due to my culture and lifestyle, you always had to dress nice and presentable when you leave your house, my mother always said, “Dress for success.”
TS: Tell me about your journey into fashion design.
CC: Well, in high school, I had annual fashion shows, and then I went on to college to receive a dual degree in Fashion Design and Fashion Marketing from American Intercontinental University Atlanta, G.A.
TS: Did you always know in your heart that this is what you wanted to do?
CC: I always knew as a child. At the age of five, my father bought my first pair of heels, which I used to dress up and walk around the house in. I started to make my own clothes at a young age and loved making dresses and hair bows.
When times got hard for Cassell, two things drove her forward: a desire to be a strong role model for her son, and knowing that God was watching over her, helping her along.
TS: How has your battle with cancer and being a survivor influenced your life and your designs?
CC: Well, being a breast cancer survivor has made me find my purpose in life, to become one of the greatest fashion designers. When I was first diagnosed, it was four days before my wedding, which was also interrupted by Hurricane Irene, but I still got married. My cancer awoke me; it made me realize what my purpose in life was, being told by my doctor that they caught it in time; I might have had only have two years to live. After hearing those words, it was as if a ticking time bomb went off inside of me. That gave me the drive to be successful. I wanted to teach my son he should always follow his dreams and passion. I do give all my success to God who has blessed me and loves me unconditionally.
TS: How would you describe your aesthetic, and where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
CC: Well, my inspiration can literally come from anything, like a painting, going to an exhibition, or just playing with my son.
TS: What does your design process look like? Do you start with an idea, the fabric, etc?
CC: I know this might sound crazy, but I start off with the fabric. I let the fabric speak to me.
(laughing) When I find the right fabric then my vision flows until I create your masterpiece.
TS: Who is your ideal client? What kind of woman wears Caronah Cassell Designs?
CC: I make custom clothes for every women, body type, shape or size. A woman who has elegance and class, who wants to make a statement, a woman who just feels good about her size and shape, a woman who has confidence, grace and wants to let the world know who she is… That’s EVERY woman!
While Cassell is helping strong women feel good about themselves through her clothing, she has two strong women helping her at home, her mother and her sister, who have helped make her dream a reality.
TS: How has becoming a fashion designer changed your life?
CC: At times it’s been hard balancing career and family; thank God I have my Sister Tracey who picks up my son from school daily and my mother who helps a lot.
TS: What has been the hardest part of becoming a designer?
CC: I really don’t have anything; but I can say the hardest thing is be unique in your style and creating one-of-a-kind designs.
TS: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
CC: In five years I see myself on top of the world…laughing…a successful businesswoman!
Caronah Cassell wants all women to be able to feel the sense of empowerment that she has created for herself, and she believes that all it takes is a little self-confidence and faith, “My best advice to give to someone looking for their passion in life is to have FAITH, STRENGTH AND BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS. IT WILL COME THROUGH AND KEEP YOUR LOVE IN GOD. Only you make your path in this life.”
If you want your very own Caronah Cassell Designs original, contact Cassell on Facebook, email email@example.com, or visit caronahcasell.com, coming soon.