To say that Chicago is a creative hub is an understatement. From music to arts and fashion–though the latter being amongst the last things one thinks of when it comes to Chicago, there exists a network of people who share a unique vision and are successfully contributing to the challenging, yet tight-knit scene. Young 20-somethings are dabbling in their creative hobbies and passions while on their 9-to-5 grind, evoking and feeding off inspiration from their peers. This energy fuels Chris Roberts, a 26 year old up-and-coming designer and stylist in the process of creating Crēo, his brand which he describes as spontaneous and free, and Tenetia Rachel, a 25 year old designer and seamstress who thrives on helping other brands flourish.
We sat down with Chris and Tenetia, who debuted their two tone, plaid cigarette trousers on social media and received instant praise and inquiries.
When did you start designing and why?
Chris: The interest was sparked while interning at Leaders 1354 and contributing to graphics and concepts. Designing is something I’ve always wanted to do and fashion is fun to me–it’s a form of expression and you can learn a lot about a person based on their style alone, which is pretty dope.
Tenetia: I started designing in high school. I was always interested in fashion but couldn’t pinpoint what I wanted to do. I took a sewing class and was a natural at it and enjoyed it. I stuck with that and just continue to perfect my craft and design for myself and others.
How did this collab come about with you both?
Chris: Through a mutual friend who connected us and knew that we both want to make clothes. She knew I can’t sew worth shit (laughs),and she knew Tenetia’s amazing at it and she wanted to work with someone and it just came together so well. I call [Tenetia] an angel.
Tenetia: And it’s good to connect with people you could work with and it just flows, without them trying to take your ideas.
It’s definitely a challenge to be able to design without having the skills to sew. You guys really make a great team. What do you do outside of designing?
Chris: I guess I can say I’m a stylist also; I work at Saks. But mostly, I like photography. I do a lot of disposables in black and white and I want to experiment more with digitals as well.
Tenetia: Currently I’m just working as a designer/seamstress, which is the best thing in life right now. But soon I will be doing administrative work, it has nothing to do with what I’m doing now, but it feeds [my passion].
Who are your biggest inspirations? Are there any designers you relate to and are inspired by?
Chris: For supporters, I would say my mom and girlfriend. I also love Dior, thats my favorite brand hands down. I love the story of Christian Dior and how he wasn’t self-confident in his own work and really just took his time, its sustainable quality and it’s not flashy. I admire that.
Tenetia: I really enjoy Jerry Lorenzo. I love his clothes and the Christian message he puts out, I’m with it all the way. That’s what I want to recreate with my kids clothing line ‘In My Name’. I like Sheila Rashid as well. And my son is also my inspiration, he is a big part of my creative process.
You both seem to be very into menswear. What made you decide to make these pants unisex?
Chris: I think womenswear could be more interesting and creative than menswear nowadays. But with these, we kinda just made them and waited to see what would happen.
Tenetia: I’m interested in the bagginess of things and look for ways to make it feminine. I like unisex clothing. After I made the pants, I was like, ”Wait, these are great for women! We should make these for everyone”.
Chris: I guess thats the way it’s supposed to go–just design it, put it out there for the world to see and go from there. That’s the biggest lesson I got from this whole thing so far.
We know that it could be scary AF to debut your work and put yourself out there on social media when you don’t have a large following. Were you shocked or excited by the reactions you received?
Chris: Very. I didn’t even expect to crack 100 likes (laughs), but I just put it up and let my followers do the rest. I’ve been getting lots of DMs and requests.
Tenetia: My social media isn’t as popping, but I saw how it was received on his page and was like ‘Wow, okay!”
Unexpected support is always encouraging. So what’s next for you two?
Chris: Now that I see that its something that is feasible, I’m just gonna keep putting stuff out there. I feel like people are watching me now. Same with Tenetia, we’re gonna keep helping each other. I also plan to do a pop-up on 4/20.
We’ll definitely be watching what Chris and Tenetia do next. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @someblackfellow and @t.enetia for inquiries, and check out more kids designs from Tenetia at www.shopinmyname.com!