Omaha Fashion Week's next season is just around the corner, and we're thrilled to share more about our amazing lineup of designers!
Meet Courtney Barbour, the designer behind CJB Designs! Her own busy lifestyle inspired her to mix athletic comfort with quirky vibes for an edgy semi-professional collection that transitions from the office to the gym, and everywhere in between!
How did you get into fashion? Share a little about your background.
I have been sketching since I was in fourth grade, helping my mom sew Halloween costumes and outfits for me and my friends. (They weren't good.) I knew from a very young age that I wanted fashion to be a big part of my life. It wasn't until my junior year of high school, when I spent a day behind the scenes of the Iowa State Fashion Show, that I realized I could make fashion a real career and focus in my life.
Describe your brand and the point of view you wish to convey. What category does your brand fall under?
CJB Designs is a brand that encompasses the woman who is always on the go. I lead a pretty busy life balancing work, my family, my relationship, and my friends. That means I want a wardrobe that can transition well from work to the gym to a drink with friends. I tried shopping for "athleisure" garments that could transition to work, but many of them still looked too sporty. This collection combines the comfort of a sporty collection with a semi-professional vibe. There are pieces geared toward a day off, running errands and going to the gym, and others designed for a day at the office. I work in a creative field where I can dress casual and edgy, so that's definitely the audience I am targeting with this collection. I would still classify The Varner Collection (named after my deceased aunt) as more of an athleisure category than anything else.
What are your personal goals, or goals for your brand?
My personal goal, especially from participating in Omaha Fashion Week, is really just to grow as a designer. I have been dreaming of having my name on a fashion brand my whole life, so this is finally my time to make that dream come true. I hope to see this collection launch my personal brand and career more, and to continue designing collections for many more shows to come.
Describe your favorite project(s) that you have worked on.
With this particular collection, piece would have to be my retro/space inspired laser cut sweater and leggings. It is super fun and edgy and really encompasses my quirky aesthetic. Otherwise, my favorite project was designing for the Childserve Bubble Ball. All of the pieces were made out of bubble wrap and the proceeds went directly to ChildServe, an amazing organization that provides opportunities and care for children with special healthcare needs. Last year was my first, and I am thrilled to be designing a collection for this year's Bubble Ball as well.
Tell me about the overarching ideas of your brand.
The idea behind my brand is to provide something fun, different, and comfortable for women in creative job roles that are constantly on the go. My aesthetic obviously doesn't work for a suit and tie workplace, and is more designed as an option for creative-minded individuals that allows for comfort and transition between activities. It is edgy, quirky, and casual; an outfit that can do and be all things.
What signature styles or silhouettes do you feature in your line?
This line features a great variety, from boxy garments to tailored athletic pieces. You will definitely see "mom" jeans and cool boxy sweaters and jackets, as well as leggings and fitted athletic style tops.
How do you balance creativity and consistency in your work?
The creativity comes when I am sketching. I do quick thumbnail sketches of anything and everything that comes to mind. After that, I narrow down ideas that work together as a cohesive collection but also provide versatility. Then I do my fabric search, which is where consistency really comes into play. I try to stick with similar fabrics and colors, with one or two bold prints. This makes the collection feel more cohesive to me, as it still provides a range of styles but doesn't throw too much color or print at the audience.
What inspired your new collection, and how are you interpreting that inspiration for your specific product categories?
I have always been attracted to comfortable styles and athleisure brands. I really enjoy the Adidas brand, and how people are able to mix and style their pieces. This sort of inspired me to create my own collection that balanced an athletic feel with an edgy, ready-to-wear vibe. My design aesthetic has quite a range, and have put myself in a lot of different designer roles. This is the first collection I have ever made that was truly what I wanted it to be, which is very exciting.
To learn more about Courtney and her work, visit her website and follow along on Facebook and Instagram as she continues to prepare for the runway! And be sure to grab tickets to Omaha Fashion Week February 27-March 3!