In 2011, I started Sartorial Splendor without a clear sense of who I was or where this path would lead. I was a small-town girl, born and raised in Savannah, GA, and a former basketball player. However, my life took a drastic turn when I suffered a career-ending ACL injury during my senior year at the University of Georgia. The injury not only shattered my basketball dreams but also plunged me into a period of mental exhaustion and depression. I felt lost, and just like that, the people I held closest started to walk out of my life. What I didn't realize at the time, was that this setback was a redirection by GOD.
After earning a degree in Fashion Merchandising from the University of Georgia, I relocated to Atlanta during a challenging economic recession. I desperately sought job opportunities in the fashion industry, but interview after interview led to one frustrating response: "You're overqualified." It was during this period of survival that I stumbled upon my hidden talent for design and tailoring. I took a part-time job at a coffee shop and interned at a clothing boutique, where I met my first mentor, Jason Scott, founder of VerdictStillOut. He inspired me by crafting his own garments, and I left with new found hope.
With this new found hope, I ventured into thrifting and began to revamp denim jackets. I taught myself how to sew and in 2012, gave birth to my first venture, Christy's Closet. Social media played a pivotal role in showcasing my unique designs and connecting with a growing audience. However, Atlanta could no longer contain my aspirations, so I packed my car and set my sights on Los Angeles. I didn't have a solid plan or a stable place to live, but I knew I had to be there. I lived in hotels and even in my car on some nights.
As our audience continued to grow, my business partner and I worked relentlessly to sustain the business for two years. But with a lack of business knowledge and poor decision making, we faced huge setbacks and ultimately lost control of the business. Our paths diverged and I was left to pick up the pieces, and had nowhere to go. I found myself back at square one – heartbroken, alone, and destroyed.
I got evicted. I remember driving around Los Angeles that day with a shattered front window and all I had was the possessions that could fit in my car, but it was during that drive that I felt the presence of GOD more strongly than ever before. I found the strength to keep going and made a promise to never give up on my dream. Shortly after, an angel entered my life, offering a place to stay and a chance to rebuild.
In 2015, still in Los Angeles, Sartorial Splendor had transformed into an independent brand. I spent the next year developing myself as a businesswoman and fashion designer. I was able to keep my brand afloat thanks to the unwavering support of those who believed in Sartorial Splendor over the years.
By 2016, I felt I had taught myself as much as I could and sought another mentor, Gentleman Jim. He had tailored for legends like James Brown, Muhammad Ali, and the Isley Brothers. I enrolled in his sewing class to become a better tailor and elevate the quality of our products. Under his guidance, my skills and my products went from average to outstanding.
In 2017, I made the bold decision to challenge myself and relocated Sartorial Splendor to New York City, one of the toughest cities to make it in. New York taught me to lean into my ingenuity and resourcefulness. I taught myself everything I needed to know to take Sartorial Splendor to the next level: embroidery, pattern making, grading, screen printing, and even making our prints in-house. The brand was featured in New York Fashion Week in 2017, a testament to its growing recognition.
Life wasn't all smooth sailing; I juggled day jobs to make ends meet while running my business during late-night hours. But then, I lost my job, fell behind on bills, and faced another setback. I received an opportunity back in Los Angeles and decided to return to pick up where I had left off. This time around, people knew the brand, and I had the chance to collaborate with BET and be featured in our very first show as an independent brand.
In 2019, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I decided to return to Atlanta, GA, with big goals for the brand. I aimed to secure a design studio and showroom and knew that real estate in Atlanta would be more affordable. I packed my bags and headed south, where we opened our first design studio and showroom in 2020.
Starting in 2023, we expanded Sartorial Splendor to Tampa, Florida, a city that offered unique opportunities to bring the essence of the brand to life. We are currently building the brand from state to state, with international ambitions on the horizon.
Building Sartorial Splendor has taught me that great things take time. This journey has been a testament to persistence, faith, and perseverance. My message to dreamers like myself is clear: if you have a dream you can't put down, keep pushing no matter how long it takes. It takes faith to believe in what you haven't seen in the physical. It takes persistence to lay a brick a day and get closer to your dreams. It takes perseverance to keep going through every test, trial, and setback that life throws at you as you pursue your dreams. Never give up. What you put in will eventually pay off; it's nature's law.
When you purchase from Sartorial Splendor, you're not just buying an item; you're investing in years of blood, sweat, and tears. My dream is to serve as inspiration to anyone chasing their dreams, provide innovative designs, outstanding quality, and an unforgettable experience. -C.Mars (Founder/Creative Director)