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From the Runway to Her Way

Naima Melonson, the creative force behind Young Socialites Clothiers, talks about her passion for textiles and vibrant color that’s been fueled by years of working in fashion and traveling abroad.

Naima Melonson

Since the age of 17, Naima Melonson has been working in the apparel industry. She started off as a salesperson at retailers such as Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret and Nordstrom, developed her own women’s collection and then spearheaded her own children’s fashion shows that took her all over the world. That experience was transformative, as she received tons of accolades from parents wanting to purchase the custom clothing they saw. The next logical step was giving life to her fun, fashionable and affording brand for sizes 4 to 16, Young Socialites Clothiers (YS), which she launched a year ago in her hometown of Detroit.

How did your experience with fashion shows prepare you for building your own line?

It helped me a lot and it showed me to stick with what I believe in. My product is not what everybody else has—which I think is a positive thing—but it’s very kid friendly. I like vibrant colors you can’t find anywhere else, and I try to make my pieces look exclusive. I’ve also used some of the feedback that I’ve gotten from parents and customers who have bought my clothes about how their children feel so special going to parties, for example, in my dresses.

A party-perfect dress from Young Socialities Clothiers

How much of your own personal preferences do you bring into your designs?

As a mom of three girls, I always loved dressing and designing custom garments for them. My inspiration has always been colorful and trendsetting pieces. I don’t think this will ever change for me—even in the winter we will carry colorful pieces. I also aim to replicate hip adult fashion while still keeping kid-friendly looks. For Spring Summer ’22, I have a personalized starburst design that I use for a dress that everyone has been loving.

What are your top three priorities when you design?

My first goal has always been to design cheerful pieces that build self-confidence and self- esteem. I always want my looks to make a child feel great about themselves and receive special attention in YS. Second, making comfortable pieces that fit well and are kid- and teen-approved. Third, keeping YS designs on the same cohesive fashion path that it started on.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love putting together all the pieces like a puzzle to create a design. I also love sourcing fabric and envisioning the look, picturing who would look great in this design and matching designs to someone’s personality.

What are the three most important lessons you’ve learned as a designer?

One, take your time. Two, plan be patient with the whole process. Three, know that it’s very difficult building a brand from the ground up so try and stay consistent and work hard to accomplish your goals.

As a mom and one-woman manufacturer, how do you balance it all?

You have to have a schedule and you have to be as organized as possible. I’ve always been a go getter, and I would have five different things going at the same time. I am never late—so that is definitely one of my top management skills.

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