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Kenya Drew

By Meagan Russell
In Bayou Profile
Dec 1st, 2021
0 Comments
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ARTICLE BY VANELIS RIVERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KELLY MOORE CLARK

Whether we’re styled for comfort or to dazzle, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the clothes we choose. One thing is for certain, though: when you look good you feel great. Which is why, if the opportunity arises, our call to expression should be further nourished by purchasing garments that complement our glorious figures and leave onlookers wanting to know where we got that outfit. Unfortunately, finding the perfect dress does not always guarantee the perfect fit, which is where Kenya Drew makes a fashion-forward solution for most of our styling needs. Self-taught designer and owner of IV Luxé, Drew has been creating striking, custom gowns and garments that leave customers feeling, as Beyonce would say, flawless.

A Monroe native, Drew has always been into the fashion industry. She has worked retail since she was 16, eventually becoming store manager for the clothing and accessories retail brand rue21. “That experience taught me everything I needed to know about running a business from hiring, customer service, marketing, sales, and scaling the business,” she says. When she opened her own boutique, she dove “deeper” into the industry. “Little did I know, it was all a part of the plan. Those long years of hard work and training were preparing me for my next step. Trust the process!” Though the boutique didn’t pan out, Drew wasn’t deterred from seeking other avenues. On a random Instagram scroll, she chanced upon an opportunity she intuitively knew she couldn’t miss. The Fashionpreneur Summit, a retreat in Los Angeles founded and hosted by successful fashion-based entrepreneur Jessica Williams, allowed her to receive coaching to better develop her design and business skills. There, Williams encouraged Drew to dream big by telling her, “You’re very creative and you should be designing clothes.” It didn’t take much for Drew to act on that confidence boost, as she was already considering the shift from boutique owner to design guru: “I could never find clothing in those wholesalers for my boutique. And it was never anything that was very unique or anything that I wanted. So that’s why I started designing.” The next logical step for Drew was to pick up a sewing machine, so she bought one from one of her closest friends and started the seemingly arduous task of learning how to sew. “I actually learned how to sew on YouTube. I have never been to any kind of sewing classes,” she revealed, though it was on her agenda, but then the pandemic hit. Though she has only been sewing for about three years, quarantine gave her the requisite time to “practice, practice, practice” and really hone her skills. 

Drew began making baby clothes and fittingly grew from that. “I’ve always been the type of girl that wanted more,” she says. So, every time she learned and grasped a new, more complicated skill she was ready for the next thing, which led her to jump into adult clothing. From there, she found herself segueing into the prominent market of prom dresses. To showcase her new collection and push herself to design formal gowns for the first time, she hosted an event that would allow her to display her creations titled Exhibit IV Showcase. In one month she completed ten luxurious, form-fitting pieces. Each gown exuded a distinct personality—plunging necklines, elaborate sequins, vibrant tulle, peek-a-boo cutouts, delicate slits, and floral prints—showing off Drew’s versatile artistry and prowess. A great success, the event helped to expand her services. Not only did her talent get the exposure it deserved, but it opened up the exclusive world of wedding gowns. 

After the showcase, Drew was approached by a lady wanting to make an appointment for a custom wedding dress. Though Drew cautioned her that she had not yet ventured into creating such high-caliber and ultimately personal dresses, she was met with assurance. “I believe in you,” she told Drew. “That pushed me to actually go ahead and do those gowns.” Her first bride had already purchased a dress elsewhere but wasn’t entirely pleased with it, and after failing to find her vision in a multitude of shops, she realized she needed her ideal gown to be created. “That’s another reason that people come for custom as well; they have this idea and they can’t find it in stores.” She brought Drew the idea of a black wedding gown with detailed beading, big and fluffy chantilly lace, and mesh with a “super-long” train. As a designer that doesn’t sketch, her first bride had to trust the designer’s instincts. “You never know what you’re getting until I put it together,” she laughs. After lots of tulle, layers, beading, and a little magic, when the bride walked out of the dressing room, it was everything she wanted it to be. “She cried when she saw it. And that made me feel so good about myself.” Since then, Drew has completed six other wedding gowns. She has noticed that regardless of the bride’s style, be it a fit and flare or ball gown, the women hiring her just want to feel beautiful, and Drew accomplishes that by accentuating all the areas the brides love the most. 

Fabric is an essential part of making a dress stand out from the rest, so Drew goes to Dallas on the regular to get some of her favorites. “I’m a touchy-feely person. I like to feel my fabrics or see them in person versus ordering them online. It’s a completely different experience when you’re feeling your fabric,” she asserts. Although she often gravitates to sequin mesh and silk charmeuse, she tries to go into a fabric store with an open mind. “Whatever catches my eye, that’s what I’m buying.” Selecting the fabric is often a task Drew carefully reviews with a client. A design can call for a specific fabric or a new fabric can present itself and cause the original design to be altered. Ultimately, the consultation process is an enjoyable one that Drew relishes going through. There have been times where she has had clients that are insecure about certain areas of their body, so their end goal is to leave with apparel they can be comfortable in. “The best thing about custom is everything is created to fit your curves or whatever insecurity you have,” she asserts, adding, “It’s a very fun experience.” After all, seeking custom-made clothing is all about individuality, self-expression, and giving yourself the gift of the ‘perfect fit.’ Drew insists that consultations are all about her clients and their dream design. “It’s about you and me creating your vision, but putting my creative ideas [in place] to make it fashion-forward and to fit you the way you want and make you feel comfortable at the end of the day.” She encourages clients to reach out whether they have changed their minds about a styling choice or just want a sneak peek of the creation. Additionally, she hopes to expand her business in the long run by manufacturing her designs. “That way, I can give my services to more clients,” she reveals. 

Even with the exceptional expertise that Drew has honed in the last year, she keeps a personal development mindset: “I change and grow every day, so who knows what I’ll be into next.”  Recently, she has been creating the very popular two-in-one gown, which is characterized by a detachable train. She also dabbles in casual wear for children and adults. Always making sure to keep a creative attitude when conceptualizing for clients, Drew draws inspiration from fashion magazines, social media, and other designers, happily admitting, “Every time I grasp a concept, I want to learn something else.”

The road to success is often paved with mistakes, and Drew isn’t shy about confessing a few of hers, but ultimately this mompreneur and relentless fashionista has relied on persistence as her follow-through. Motivated to dress and empower other women to be the best versions of themselves, Drew’s energetic personality is her secret weapon. It has helped her build her business and establish trust and strong relationships with her clients. As a result, she has become an even bolder designer and has embraced the humbling yet powerful notion that there’s no such thing as a perfect dress. “I always say that there are no rules in fashion. So, whatever you feel comfortable in, and whatever you feel beautiful in, that’s what makes the perfect you.” 

Book a session with Kenya Drew by following IV Luxé on Facebook and sending her a message to schedule an appointment.