Charlene Frazier is a proud mom of two young men, Steven and Shareef. She’s also a bride-to-be (congrats!). Charlene is a transplant from NYC who resides in Manning, SC. She’s a very talented clothing designer, and is currently working on getting her brand, Until Then Creations, to the masses! Charlene is a woman with a beautiful spirit, giving heart, and charming personality. I know that you’ll be inspired by her story of healing from the scars of childhood that so many of us carry, and rebounding to become the resilient and ambitious woman that she is today!
A Childhood Familiar to So Many of US…
AC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
CF: Well, you have to know what you’re good at as a child to have those dreams. I had no hobbies, no interests.
AC: That’s so hard to believe, seeing this very outgoing personality sitting in front of me.
CF: This is the most outgoing I’ve ever been in my life
AC: What made you happiest as a child?
CF: Going to visit my grandmother and uncle. My grandmother was a seamstress and my uncle worked for Vogue as a designer. He would design clothes for me, very nice dresses. It felt like an escape from where I was ‘trapped’.
AC: What was your biggest fear during your childhood?
CF: In school I had a speech impediment-a very bad speech impediment. Because of it, I was quiet and withdrawn.
AC: What was your life like at home?
CF: It was me and my older brother, who was very popular. My dad always work and provided for us. I was the outcast. Most mothers give attention to their girls and do a lot for them, not mine. With her, I just had to make it work. I stayed out of the way and did what I had to do.
AC: Did your mom ever offer you positive encouragement?
CF: No, as a matter of fact, here’s a story. I was about 24 or 25 years old. The kids and I went to visit my mom. My brother and his wife lived on the 2nd floor of my mom’s house. On that day, they got into an argument and my sister-in-law asked me a question. I started to answer. My mother came in and said “How are you going to give advice? You don’t have a man yourself?” After that, I stopped visiting.
AC: See, these are the kinds of things that stick with us.
CF: So, I had the speech impediment. I didn’t feel pretty. And then there’s the relationship with my mother. So as I got older and because of all of these things, I just fell back and did not want to be noticed.
AC: What was the beginning of you rebounding from those childhood situations?
CF: My best friend’s mom is the person who helped me to feel better about myself. One day, my best friend whose name is also Charlene, told me that her mom asked her “how’s that pretty dark-skinned girl?” I said “come on now”, thinking that she could not have been talking about me. Both of them, Charlene and her mom, tried to convince me to feel better about myself. Together, we read and did the activities in the book The Purpose Driven Life. We were close and it was easy for me to open up to Charlene’s mom. We couldn’t get past the 5th or 6th chapter because when I told her that when I look in the mirror I see this hideous person, it broke her down. No matter what someone tells you, and how much you want to believe it, it’s not until you believe it yourself that you begin to heal.
I’m almost there. I’m a hell of a lot better than I used to be.
AC: Who’s your support system now?
CF: My friend Charlene and her husband are like siblings to me. Dealing with the tribulations of being a single mother, I can always count on them. They go out of their way to help me and my sons.
AC: What do you love about yourself?
CF: I can now say that I love my personality. I have a lot of people tell me that they love how outspoken I am. I think to myself “if they only knew me back in the day…”
AC: Just curious, what made you move to South Carolina?
CF: My father fell ill with dementia, so my parent moved here. My mother was also dealing with her own illness, sarcoidosis. I knew that taking care of my father while being sick herself was too much for her to handle. My heart would not allow me to let her come down here and deal with it all on her own, so I moved down here to help. Once I moved to South Carolina, I decided “forget it all, now I’m just going to be me!”
Nurturing Her Purpose…
AC: What is your biggest dream for your life?
CF: I would love to become a fashion buyer and jumpstart my clothing design business, Until Then Creations. I try to design clothing for grown women who want a good fit with that element of sex appeal. I like clothing designs that are classy, without the raunchiness.
AC: How did you come up with the name of your business, Until Then Creations?
CF: Don’t laugh. Jill Scott has a song called Until Then. I have been told that the words are crazy, but that phrase “Until Then” means a lot to me. It means that there more to come, just wait for it, it’s coming.
AC: When did you learn to design clothing?
CF: One year, my boyfriend at the time asked what I wanted for Christmas. I asked for a sewing machine. What’s crazy is that the sewing machine sat in the box, unused for two years. I got to the point where I just wanted to have something that I enjoyed doing for me. I took it out of the box, got some material, and started experimenting with it. I didn’t have any classes, totally self-taught. I just fell in love with it.
Her Motivation to Help Others…
AC: So far, what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
CF: Because I didn’t really have interests or know what I was good at as a child, I have always pushed my children to find themselves, find their talents. My experiences have also caused me to become involved in the lives of young people, encouraging them to live their lives and find what’s for them. My biggest accomplishment has been meeting people, seeing great things in them, and motivating them to the point that they eventually see their potential. I love it.
AC: So, what advice would you give to young ladies who are in the same position that you were in your youth?
CF: I would tell them to slow down. Having a boyfriend is fine, but keep your pants up and find yourself. Travel, figure out what you enjoy doing. Don’t allow anyone to push their expectations on you. Find that one thing that makes you happy and go full force with it.
AC: What’s your greatest hope for women and the lives that we lead?
CF: I would like for our women to stop basing our self-worth on a man. I hope that we can start looking at ourselves and value what we have to offer. I see those types of situations and it’s so hurtful to me. I never hesitate to give advice or offer whatever help is needed to young ladies who I see going in that direction.
What’s Next for Charlene…
AC: Are you where you want to be in life?
CF: I’m where I should be. What's great is that I know it will only get better. The people who are in my life now, we help to build one another, so I know that life is going to get even better.
AC: What makes you happy?
CF: Drawing in my book of croquis, being at work and daydreaming about what I’m going to sew that night. I love it when someone walks past me and being inspired by what they have on. I’m always thinking about design.
AC: What’s next for your business?
CF: I’m continuing to work on my clothing line. I also want to start a jewelry line. I plan to start giving sewing lessons to our youth, to have them do something that they are proud of. Giving back is so important, when you receive you have to give back.
AC: Wow, on that note, I have to thank you so much for being open and sharing your story.
What I’ve Gained From Charlene’s Story
1. As parents, we have to be very careful to feed confidence and hope into our children. Let them know their worth and their limitless potential.
2. Life becomes so much more enriched when we find out interests and talents (our purpose), and we take that time to nurture that purpose.
3. Surround yourself with people who will support you and offer positivity in your life. Forgive and pray for those who can’t seem to do so.
4. Be sure to give back what you have received, and motivate others to find happiness in their own lives.
Thank you, again, to our very first Gem of the Month, Charlene Frazier. Let us know how this post has inspired you! Don't go without leaving your comments, and be sure to share with others who may also be moved by December's Gem.
Take a look at some of Charlene's designs!
Antoinette C. is a blogger who delights in all things that foster unity and growth in women. After all, if the woman is happy and fulfilled, so is her family and community. Through Truly Charmed, Antoinette will introduce you to women who have inspired her, and who will, hopefully, do the same for you! Here's to your charmed life!