Tag Archives: Carrielle Sedersten

The Collectible Juantiesha Christian

October 16, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Juantiesha Christian is a self-taught fashion designer. She does not have traditional training. She did not take any classes, and she does not hold a fashion degree. She learned her craft by feeling textiles and examining the stitching on clothes in her closet and in stores. 

The realization of her dream to become a fashion designer was based on a feeling. 

The feeling started when she was in college making costumes for her sorority pageant at Northwest Missouri State University. In 2009, she showed her first collection at Omaha Fashion Week. 

After her collection walked the runway, a woman found Christian backstage and insisted on taking home the green mohair coat Christian designed. The prospective client offered her $400 to sell it. 

Seeing people’s reactions coupled with the woman wanting to buy one of her designs gave Christian a new confidence. This was the moment she knew she was ready to go into the fashion industry. 

Local artist Nate Gurnon is a family friend of Christian’s whose artwork was incorporated into some of her designs last season. 

“I’ve know Tiesha for a long time,” he says. “I’m truly impressed with her skill, style, dedication, and willingness to push the boundaries—including my prints from Satisfaction Not Guaranteed, which are a little out of the ordinary.” 

Just as she learned to design by feeling, Christian still lets the fabric lead her when selecting materials for her collections. She doesn’t sketch. Instead, when she walks into a fabric store, she touches the different fabrics and lets the inspiration take her from there. 

Christian’s designs show the history of her growth as a designer—from her very first collection, full of muted green and white dresses; to the later vibrant, Frida Kahlo- inspired clothing, bold and floral; to her most recent work, an interpretation of what Kahlo might have worn today. It is refined, more adult than earlier pieces, while still having that colorful, statement quality that distinguishes her design aesthetic. 

Her ready-to-wear fashion label, SuShe by J. Tracey, is for women who want to stand out in a crowd. 

The brand’s name references her middle name (Tracey) and her first experience with sushi. “It was beautiful and different to me, but I assumed I was not going to like it because it was not my food ‘style,’” she says of sushi. “Once I tried it, I fell in love with it, and it’s one of my favorite foods.” 

Her mission for SuShe by J. Tracey is to create high-quality statement pieces that are affordable and that every woman will feel beautiful wearing. 

“I would love for women with different styles and body types to have at least one statement piece of mine,” Christian says. “Whether they have more of a gothic style, or more of a preppy look, or a glam look. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, even if it’s not their everyday wardrobe.” 

Christian currently resides in New York City while working full-time as a college academic adviser at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. She spends the rest of her time designing new collections and creating custom orders. Her long-term goal is to design full time and eventually have her own store. 

Gurnon has no doubt she’ll be able to achieve these goals. 

“To make the move to New York from Omaha with a dream of fashion design is unheard of,” he says. “But she has a lot of support from her family and friends in Omaha. She works hard and it shows, her heart is in fashion.” 

“I want to be remembered for being a very versatile designer and knowing that fashion can be affordable and that it can be enjoyed by everybody,” Christian says. “I know some people want to be known as the all-natural designer, the cruelty-free designer, the plus- size designer, and the vintage designer. I do a little bit of everything.” 


Visit sushebyjtracey.com for more information. 

This article was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Fashion In Business Settings

April 13, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The worst thing I saw someone wear in a professional setting was a mini skirt with a backless blouse and tattoos showing when accepting an award,” says Gretchen Twohig, a lawyer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska.

Many executives would agree. Tales of skintight leggings, flip-flops, and ripped jeans appearing in a professional office abound. Some reports blame millennials while others consider the cause to be the rise of tech startup culture, but the rules are clearly not as black and white as they were in the Mad Men era.

JP Morgan formally embraced the informal trend in 2016 when they created new guidelines that took their offices from being full of suits and ties to ones that allow “Casual pants, capri pants, business-appropriate casual shirts, and polo shirts,” among other trends.

The variety even happens within industries. Nicole Seckman Jilek, a trial attorney at Abrahams Kaslow & Cassman law firm, wears a suit and pantyhose every day. If she wants to add a personal touch to her workwear, she uses accessories, especially black high-heeled pumps.

“If I’m going to be appearing in front of a judge or a jury, I’m probably going to choose a more conservative suit in a more conservative color: black, navy blue, some sort of neutral color,” she says. “But I do have a few of what I call ‘power suits’ that are emerald green and a couple of red suits. So depending on the circumstances, sometimes those red suits can project a more confident image than an all-black suit.” 

Jilek works in a setting that requires her to speak with a variety of clients.

“If I’m going to cross-examine or depose a difficult male witness, I may not want to wear certain colors because I want to come across stronger and bolder and more confident.”

Her personal preference to wear pantyhose every day doesn’t mean she finds it unprofessional if other women don’t. Jilek considers being too casually or youthfully dressed as crossing the line in a business formal setting.

Color choice can push the boundaries of acceptable business formal attire, too.

“There are certain circumstances that are the utmost professional setting, such as a jury trial, so I stay away from wearing a lot of color [in those instances],” Jilek says.

Twohig, on the other hand, works at a business casual workplace. She often wears accessories like jewelry, or brightly colored or patterned shoes.

She deems short skirts, anything with holes, or faded jeans as inappropriate for the workplace. Even dark jeans are pushing it.

Jeans, incidentally, are on the rise again, in terms of their prevalence and their waistlines. The 2018 spring fashion trends show everything from higher-waisted jeans paired with fuchsia blazers to jeans-style pants in sequined materials.

Michael Curry, a customer service training specialist and coworker of Twohig at Blue Cross Blue Shield, is known for having a playful sense of style.

Curry’s favorite way to express his personal style is with a boldly colored watch, belt, or shoes for that pop of color. He enjoys having more fashion options in a business casual environment like dressing down his outfit with a pair of white sneakers if he wants. But Curry also loves the polished look a tie can give when he needs to be at his best.

“My go-to work outfit when I need to feel confident is a cardigan over a button-up and tie with a tie clip, fitted slacks, leather band watch, eyeglass frames, and my signature fragrance,” he says. “I feel unstoppable.”

As workwear becomes more open to interpretation, the idea of acceptable fashion in business differs for each individual, and is only going to get more complicated, as millennials, who value personal expression over formality, rise to upper management and the conversations about gender identity and equal pay continue.

“Even at my office, there’s different dress codes,” Jilek says. “I wear different things depending on what I have on my calendar that day. I have a bunch of colleagues that also don’t meet with clients. They generally only see the people that we work with. So sometimes that can also justify a different look for them, but even under those situations, I always dress like I’m going to end up having a surprise important appointment or have to run down to the courthouse.”

And there’s another factor people sometimes don’t consider when hiring younger employees —those coming right out of college may not have much of a wardrobe budget.

“Early in my career, I didn’t have a lot of clothes to wear to work or the money to buy a lot of new things all at once,” says Twohig. “Now that I’ve been working for a long time, I have built a wardrobe.”

Even though Curry thinks jewelry should be minimal at work, he views a small eyebrow piercing or lip ring as still looking professional. Jilek sees fashion trends as a major influencer of what is considered acceptable business fashion.

“Ten years ago, you probably wouldn’t have seen any double-breasted jackets or suits in a store, but, in fact, I just saw a very successful, well-dressed evening news anchor wearing a double-breasted suit last week, and she looked great,” Jilek says.

Jilek, however, keeps her attention on the fact that she works in a professional setting.

“I’ve always kind of followed the mantra: dress for the job you want not the job you have,” Jilek says. “So if you want to be perceived as strong, confident, and capable—you need to dress like it.”

Nicole Seckman Jilek

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.