Fashion Designer Camilyn Beth Leavitt
The 27-year-old, small town Floridian and designer behind the eponymous Camilyn Beth fashion brand talks breaking into the fashion world, growing a small business, and what it takes to launch your own collection
Let us introduce you to Camilyn Beth Leavitt—fashion designer extraordinaire and queen of feminine sweet designs that you won’t be able to live without after first glance.
The year she started her line, Camilyn was invited to SIXTEEN weddings. Yes, you read that right. Instead of going out and buying dresses for each one, she used her 'newlywed budget’ to design and make her own. Her pieces caught the eye of others and soon she was making dresses for friends and relatives—and eventually boutiques. From scalloped edges to glittery details, she has managed to create the perfect party dress over and over again.
While her line is growing faster than ever, Camilyn continues to stay involved in every aspect as well as keeping focus on her goals and the future of her business. Her diligent work ethic and keen eye for fashion make her someone young women can look up to. We're thrilled Camilyn took the time to give The Everygirl a peak into her world, so read on and discover how she started her own line, her advice for aspiring fashion designers, and how she balances being a business owner.
Full name: Camilyn Beth Leavitt
Current Title/Company: Owner/Designer of Camilyn Beth LLC
Educational Background: Graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2007 with a major in Fashion Design
What was your first job out of college?
I spent my first couple of years out of college traveling and gaining as much fashion experience as possible. I moved to Stockholm, Sweden and worked as an Au Pair for a really amazing family. I also mentored under couture designer Pär Engsheden. While mentoring under Pär, I worked on several dresses for the Swedish Royal family, including the Crown Princess of Sweden's wedding dress. My husband and I still visit Stockholm every year.
Wow, that sounds like a dream. How did you transition from that to starting your own line? What inspired you to take the leap and begin your own company?
In the beginning, I really didn't think I could start my own clothing line because everyone would tell me, 'fashion design is so competitive... it's impossible to make it as a designer... designing isn't as glamorous as it looks in magazines.' It felt a little impossible with those thoughts in my head, but I never lost my love and desire to design. I started making this design I call the "Swagg" and selling it on Etsy. It's a beautifully draped vest made of non-piling fleece and is very versatile and works on a wide-varity of age groups. I started raking up sales on Etsy that gave me the confidence and encouragement I needed to keep going forward in the fashion industry.
Tell us about the process of launching your very first collection.
That same year my husband and I were invited to 16 weddings in one year! Instead of going out and buying dresses for all these weddings on our 'newlywed budget,' I decided to design and make my own dresses. I also made dresses for several of my friends. In April of 2012, I received a tweet from @HattieSparks wanting to sell Camilyn Beth in her shop. I really didn't want to say no to this opportunity to have my dresses sold in one of New Orleans' best boutiques, so I quickly made line sheets and a lookbook with all the wedding dresses I had designed over the past year. I confidently assured Hattie (of Hattie Sparks) that she was the only boutique in New Orleans to carry CB (I didn't want to let on that she was the only boutique ever to carry CB, because I didn't want her to worry). She placed a 32-piece order, I hand-sewed each dress, and sent them out.
How did you go about promoting your collection?
I feel very fortunate to have so many friends and family in the fashion industry that have really used their skills and platforms to promote and support me. My sister Ashten is a model and my mom does hair and makeup. My friend Shannon Kirsten takes all my photos and my friend Sarah has the blog Sarah Tucker Styles and owns Sarah Tucker Events. We all work together and encourage each other on a daily basis. Blogging has always been my favorite way of promoting Camilyn Beth. I love working with bloggers because they get to style my pieces their own way and really bring the dresses to life. Bloggers have become fashion icons and inspire women every day on social media.
What advice would you give someone hoping to start their own line?
- Work really hard.
- Stay positive in every situation.
- Create good relationships with everyone you meet.
- Say yes to any opportunity even if it seems impossible.
- Love the life your given.
Walk us through a typical day at Camilyn Beth, LLC.
I spend the mornings and early afternoons in my office, catching up on emails, keeping up on inventory, sourcing, social media/marketing, crossing off and adding items to my to-do list... all of this with my 'flat-faced cat' assistant by my side. The afternoons are spent in meetings or photoshoots. The later afternoon I am in the work room checking on production, working on patterns, improving fit, improving quality, designing for the next collection, and looking over each dress before it is shipped off. At night, I finish up whatever tasks were not finished. I design and get inspired mostly at night. My main source for inspiration is Pinterest, bloggers, books, and magazines. Wherever I go during the day, I have a large sketchbook I use for to-do lists, design sketching, daily notes, and brilliant ideas.
When you start your business from the ground up, there are no instructions. I really have to take each baby step at a time, learn from mistakes, and keep moving forward faster and better than before.
What has been the most challenging aspect of owning your own business?
I absolutely love every aspect of owning Camilyn Beth. It is my life, and I would have it no other way. Everyday there are ups and occasionally some downs. Right now, thankfully, my business is growing at such a fast pace, it is a challenge staying on top of the daily tasks, while planning for future collections and projects. I have to be very diligent with my time and always keep planning ahead. When you start your business from the ground up, there are no instructions. I really have to take each baby step at a time, learn from mistakes, and keep moving forward faster and better than before. I have a list of achievable goals on our refrigerator for each year. I love it because my friends and family ask about the goals and it's a constant reminder to stay focused.
And the most rewarding?
There are 2 rewarding aspects of having my clothing line: It makes me smile and sometime tear-up when I see my dresses come to life. The women that wear my dresses are wearing their dresses to such special occasions and moments of their lives. I love that Camilyn Beth is part of those special occasions. I've seen Camilyn Beth dresses worn to weddings, showers, first dates, fundraisers, formals, and I even had one customer reward herself with a CB dress after she met her weight loss goal. Seeing these dresses being used for those special occasions fuels me to keep moving forward. Also, it is incredibly rewarding getting my dresses produced in the USA. It is such a blessing to provide jobs for hard working Americans. We have such an incredible team that works hard and works hard with a smile. That's all I could ever ask for :)
What's in the future for Camilyn Beth?
I want to expand the Camilyn Beth collection to prints, accessories including shoes, belt and bags, a children's wear collection, and a menswear line of suiting.
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
Listen to your heart, always.
Camilyn Beth Leavitt is The Everygirl...
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Favorite way to treat yourself?
Saturday morning at the farmers market, getting a 15 min massage, fresh flowers, a coconut & straw, then a siesta on the beach.
If you could meet any woman for lunch, who would it be and what would you order?
Diane von Furstenberg and I would order lox & avocado.
Best advice you've ever received?
Don't worry; everything happens for a reason.
Aidan or Big?