* Our Fashionpreneur Legacy

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Our #Fashionpreneur Legacy

I have designer genes and designer jeans!”

Shenica R. Graham – GSyndicates™ Enterprises and GSyndicates™ WorldWide

Our #fashionpreneurlegacy is about building people through the power of fashion. It’s more than the clothes you wear. Our motto is, “The Art of Business. Excellent by Design.” We know the business of communication, and there is magic in our creativity. Our mission is helping people fashionably change lives including their own, by promoting a positive self-image – something that will never go out of style.

Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane

First, since Black hair is certainly a topic on the fashion front lines, let me pay homage to my own maternal Great Grandmother (at left), Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane (born c. 1909), who was the first Black woman to own a Velvatex College of Beauty Culture in Kansas. She was a twin. and the daughter of her American Indian slave mother and their slave owner. She saw the stark reality of class discrimination as she with her fair skin and red hair was allowed to live in the plantation home, while her twin sister, who was dark-skinned., was made to live with the slaves in unfavorable conditions. Many of the women in my family would say that I inherited my great grandmothers’ gift for haircare. I was often called upon to help them prepare for special events.

The following is an excerpt about the founder of Velvatex: “In 1926, M. E. Patterson of Little Rock incorporated Velvatex College of Beauty Culture, then known as Velvatex Beauty College, which was the state’s only approved beauty school for people of color… Patterson dubbed the school “Velvatex” because she believed African-American hair emulated the feel of velvet.” « read more

Hayman, Syd. “Like Velvet.” Arkansas Times, February 2019. Online at https://arktimes.com/entertainment/ae-feature/2019/02/01/like-velvet-history-in-black-hairstyles-in-arkansas (accessed February 1, 2021).


Hayman, Syd. “Velvatex College of Beauty Culture.” Encyclopedia of Arkansas, August 2020. Online at https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/velvatex-college-of-beauty-culture-14491/ (accessed February 1, 2021).

Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans

Celia Lucinda’s daughter, my maternal Grandmother, Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans (September 15, 1931 – April 20, 2013), was one of Lane-owned Velvatex College’s first graduates. She was born on September 15, 1931, in North Little Rock, Arkansas, to Mr. and Mrs. James (Lucinda) Lane. She was the oldest girl of nine children. She married Harrell K. Evans on May 14, 1950. They were married for 48 years, 9 months, and 28 days, serving as pastor and missionary until he went to be with the LORD. Grandma Lucinda was also a prolific seamstress who was gifted to make fine apparel without patterns, simply from the ideas in her creative spirit – that entity shared by all designers.

Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris

Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris, Founder / CEO, House of Sherell

Annie Lucinda’s second daughter, my mother, Mrs. Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris is the Founder and CEO of House of Sherell, a fashion design and consignment business. Deborah was born on February 21, 1956 in Wichita, Kansas. From the age of six, she carried the dream of launching a fashion mogul. She is now capitalizing on the many skills gained from her leadership role as a Supply Sargent in the US Army.

She is a highly gifted seamstress and creative force who has inspired and empowered many others including myself (I am still writing my own fashion herstory).

Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris, Supply Sargent, US Army

In 2011, after a near 40 year hiatus, she returned to college and graduated with an Associate degree in Fashion Design, with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship, from the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), with the Class of 2015. This leap secured the fact of faith in her vision. It led to the development of her senior project, a fashion show, and banquet, which was held in 2013. I debuted my first fashion line at that show.

Shenica Renee Graham

Shenica Renee Graham is the great-granddaughter of Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane, the granddaughter of Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans, and a lifelong apprentice of her mother, Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris. She was born on October 14, 1977, in Long Beach, California.

Shenica learned to sew as a child. She started making doll clothes at age six while sitting on the floor near her mother’s chair as she whisked her Singer classic sewing machine through everything from hats to draperies. She began designing clothes for herself at age nine. She likes to say, “I have designer genes and designer jeans!

Though Shenica naturally developed a love for fashion, her dreams were diverted by nagging mental health problems including severe depression. She battled low self-esteem and had a difficult time breaking free from a downward spiral that left her in a virtual hermitage.

In high school, Shenica could from time to time be found sewing throughout the night, making clothes to wear the next day. As a Sophomore, she made the graduation dress for one of her Senior high school friends, who became her first paying client. Furthering her #fashionpreneur spirit, Shenica made and sold plush bears dressed in her original designs. A high-school counselor bought her most-expensive item: a bear dressed in a red, couture gown with hand-sewn embellishments. In college, Shenica continued to create wearable art including custom-painted t-shirts. She is now an accomplished designer, having launched GSyndicates Media, an online design firm.

In 2013, Shenica founded the fashion label, GSIA (GSyndicates Iowa)(pronounced Geisha) – now part of GSyndicates™ Fashions) at the House of Sherell Fashion Extravaganza on November 6, 2013. She stated…

This is one of the best decisions I ever made. I still recall the mélange of excitement and anxiety of stepping out of my comfort zone to launch a creative project beyond the borders of self-seclusion.

After battling depression for several years, Shenica was inspired by her mother to take up a lost art from her youth. Following a series of hospitalizations, Shenica was once again at a crossroads. While her mother had gone back to college to pursue a fashion design degree and was well on her way to becoming a Senior in her program (class of 2015! Whoot! Whoot!), she offered Shenica the chance of a lifetime.

My mother and I were traditional pageant watchers. Our favorite competitions are Evening Gown, Talent, and Costume (as with the Miss Universe pageant). With the rise of reality television, we became regulars in the fashionable home-front row, watching the likes of Project Runway and Making The Cut (we love Tim and Heidi!). Little did I know that when I accepted my mother’s offer to join her in building a fashion business, she a fashion show in November. It felt like I had stepped into a Cinderella story. The pumpkin bloomed and I had made it to fashion week!”

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In October of 2013, Mom and I had a private sewing/design competition. We sequestered ourselves with our own one-to-one challenges in a mock project runway. I won that contest (to be fair, Mom did have some heart trouble the week before and had just been released from the hospital when we started the competition. Thank God she came out well).

I am so humbled and grateful for this opportunity. The power of someone else believing in you when you cannot see your value is priceless. Becoming a fashion designer is something I had dreamed of yet did not have the courage to pursue. It was too personal; and that made it too risky. My mother is my hero for giving me a gentle nudge, picking me up every time I fell, and supporting me whilst I learned to stand on faith. Helping her to build this business is something at which I work very diligently. I want her to know that she can count on me to be her best champion, the way she has always been for me.

Coming out of that shell to do something so public; putting all of me into a product and subjecting it to scrutiny, was and is frankly, terrifying. I had spent so much life force building walls to protect what was my fragile shell. It was difficult to see myself any other way.

In this whirlwind of new experiences, Shenica found her niche beyond the written word (a hobby turned into several published articles and unfinished manuscripts). The fashion show/banquet received rave reviews. Shenica’s final look (which she entitled, “Marilyn”) was, “… the show maker,” according to her Mom. The success of Shenica’s first line preview sparked a new venture, Haute Midwest™ Magazine. It allowed Shenica to fulfill her love of blog journalism and creative writing while staying informed in her new career field and advancing the goals of her family’s new fashion business.

With the excitement of Midwest™ Magazine and finding a new creative voice, Shenica launched full-time into fashion and media. To pay success forward, she is happy to sponsor future fashion moguls, which is part of her new design business including expertise in fashion and media, GSyndicates Media.

Ashlyn is wearing, "Marilyn" by GSIA
Model, Ashlyn in “Marilyn” by GSIA

Shenica’s designs compliment a variety of body shapes and sizes. The star of her fashion debut was the pearl white suit dubbed, “Marilyn” (shown at left). Believe it or not, this show stopper was born in one of Shenica’s bursts of manic energy (a nod to her Bipolar battle), taking just a few hours to complete.

Adapted by permission from Haute Midwest Magazine.

Model Sawanda, in “Marilyn” by GSIA

After realizing the potential of several unique opportunities in the fashion arena, our name was changed to GSyndicates™ Enterprises and we became the umbrella corporation for all of the GSyndicates™ fashion and media design businesses.

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