Radio Interview


Call it Ken-do attitude. “I started dressing my Barbie dolls when I was 10 years old,” bridal designer Therez Fleetwood, who’d go on to create the only Afrocentric costumes ever worn by Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World, tells Wealthy Sistas host Deborah Hardnett. “So my mother sent me to sewing school. But I wasn’t a big fan of that, and quit after three months. Then my mother bought me a sewing machine, but I didn’t do anything with it for about three years. Then something hit me and I took it out one day and started sewing non-stop. I’ve been at it ever since.” –

Therez Fleetwood and Disney

Did you know it was Therez Fleetwood who designed the kente cloth costumes for Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Disney World Florida? These designs were created exclusively for the Miss Black Collegiate pageant back in 1998. Her designs are now a part of Mickey and Minnie’s 150 Special Occasion outfits. It is the only time the Disney corporation allowed an outside designer to design for their icons.  Way to go, Ms. Fleetwood! #MakingHistory

mickey and minnie therez fleetwood 1Designer Therez Fleetwood at the Walt Disney World costume department in Orlando Florida in 1998.








Gorgeous Cowrie Shell Adorned Wedding Dresses!

therez fleetwood cowrie shells 2MAKEDA wedding dress – natural silk dupioni and hand-sewn cowrie shells.

cowrie shells

The ever popular cowrie shell has many uses and meanings. It has shown up in the form of money, jewelry, and religious accessories in almost every part of the world. Found in the islands of the Indian Ocean, the cowrie shell soon gained popularity throughout much of ancient Africa.

zariZARI wedding dress – light blue double silk satin bustier dress with front slit, hand-sewn cowrie shells and Swarovski pearls.

cowrie shells

Its influence, however, also spread to China, where it was used as a form of currency to such an extent that the Chinese used its shape to form their pictograph for money! Today excavations have found some of the money of ancient China in the form of brass and silver cowrie shells. Wherever the cowrie shells were found, it seems as if it has been symbolized. 

therez fleetwood cowrie shells 1TYEKA wedding dress – silk shantung sheath dress with cut-out sides, front slit and hand-sewn cowrie shells.

cowrie shells

Spiritually, according to African legend, if you are attracted to cowrie shells you could be family to an ocean spirit of wealth and earth. It also represents Goddess protection which is very powerful and connected with the strength of the ocean. Throughout Africa, and South and North America, the cowrie symbolized the power of destiny and prosperity. Thought of as the mouth of Orsisas, it also is believed to have taught stories of humility and respect. 

therez fleetwood melodyMELODY wedding dress – silk taffeta empire waist dress with hand-sewn cowrie shells.

cowrie shells

However you interpret these beautiful white shells, they are a fascinating, unique addition to your wardrobe. Whether used in jewelry, or in crafts, or in any other use you can imagine, these shells are sure to add an exotic feel of Africa and make an excellent, one of a kind, fashion statement.

amaliaAMALIA wedding dress – silk shantung ballgown with hand-painted pearlized cowrie shells.

cowrie shells

therez fleetwood cowrie shells 3ASHA wedding dress – silk brocade two-piece dress with hip-hugging straight skirt and natural cowrie shells.

cowrie shells

zaharaZAHARA wedding dress – double silk satin sheath dress with cut-out sides, trumpet hemline,  hand-painted cowrie shells and Swarovski pearls.

cowrie shells

therez fleetwood cowrie shells aminaAMINA wedding dress – silk shantung dress with peplum top, straight skirt , detachable train, and hand-painted pearlized cowrie shells.

cowrie shells

therez fleetwood cowrie shells neemaNEEMA wedding dress – silk chiffon and crepe de chine empire waist dress with hand-sewn cowrie shells and Swarovski pearls.

cowrie shells

therez fleetwood cowrie shells nandiNUBUSHE wedding dress – silk shantung dress with peplum top, straight skirt, detachable train, and hand-sewn cowrie shells.


Article from – “The Meaning and History of the Cowrie Shell” –


All That Jazz! Celebrating The Fabric Of Our Culture

As a designer, I love when I am able to be self-expressed with my creations. This dress was created exclusively for the finale of LEGACY – Celebrating the Fabric of Our Culture in Philadelphia, PA.   For all you jazz enthusiasts… this one’s for you!

therez fleetwood jazz dress

Creating this dress was an extremely long process.  I used double-ply silk satin fabric, 1/8″ gold metallic cording, bugle beads and seed beads.  There is also a built-in corset and crinoline underneath. Here is design and construction process below;

jazz fabric and trims


STEP 1 – sketching all the Jazz band members. (ie. singer, trumpet, bass, piano, drums, etc…)
jazz sketches


STEP 2 – laying  out and positioning all musicians on the fabric.jazz laying out sketches



STEP 3 –  tracing  the images on the fabric.
jazz tracing onto fabric


STEP 4 – machine stitching, along the lines and hand hand-sewing the beaded trims to create the artwork on the dress.
jazz sewing