Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star, The (MO)
July 21, 2007
JENE OSTERHELDT JOSTERHELDT@KCSTAR.COM - JOSTERHELDT@KCSTAR.COM: Being a diva is her bag
For Cha'Kiva Felder, life has always been about fashion.
As a child, she grew up playing in her mother's shoes, hundreds of them. She actually enjoyed the chore of cleaning up her mom's closet. It translated into hours of playing dress-up with her younger sister. They'd play with the shoes, their mother's jewelry, everything.
The only thing better than that was watching her grandmother get ready for church on Sunday mornings.
"She was a true fashionista," says Cha'Kiva, 29. "She put her all into her outfit, from the faux fur to the stilettos to the beautiful hats. She inspired me. She taught me how to sew how to crochet and was always giving me ideas. She is the original spoiled diva."
The women in her life inspired her so much that Cha’Kiva chose fashion as a career. For one thing she started her own line of handbags, Spoiled Diva that she sells online at www.clfeldersignature.com and at local fashion markets like the Haute Market.
"A diva is basically a sophisticated lady on the top of her game at all times," says Cha’Kiva, who will be at today’s West Bottoms Urban Bazaar (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Foundation Room, 1221 Union Ave.).
"Spoiled Diva is about pampering oneself. I am a spoiled diva. I love getting my toes and nails done. I love sparkly things, feathers and getting my hair done. Eccentricity and spirit sums up my look and the look of my bags."
But before she started her own line, she studied fashion marketing and design at the American InterContinental University in Atlanta.
After graduation, she worked as a pattern maker for a Georgia-based uniform company. But at home she made her own dresses and jumpsuits and sold them to boutiques.
Her career eventually led her to Boston, where she scored a job at a sleepwear company, Bennett & Co., as technical design account manager for Victoria’s Secret and Lane Bryant.
And she says that experience changed her life.
"It was amazing," she says of the work, particularly with Victoria’s Secret. "It was so much fun. There is so much you can do with embellishments and fabric treatments, so much you can do with a nightie. The silks and feathers and rhinestones, you can really just go all out and let your creative side come out."
It was there that she got the idea to embellish handbags the same way Victoria’s Secret embellishes lingerie. It all started three years ago with a denim handbag, trimmed with faux fur, a chain link and leather strap.
She wore it to church one Sunday in Boston, and a lady bought it right off her shoulder. That led to more orders, which led to purse parties, and eventually Cha’Kiva realized she had found her calling.
Late last year she decided to move back to Kansas City and pursue Spoiled Diva full time. She’s not in any stores yet, but she’s working on it. Right now she is focused on building her name, and she has faith that it will lead to her fulfilling her dream of opening a Spoiled Diva boutique and expanding the handbag line into apparel.
"Coming from an average family in an average Midwest town with an average income, I didn’t know how possible something like this would be," she says. "Honestly, I know Kansas City isn’t thought of as the most progressive fashion city, but I am pleased to see it finding its way on the fashion map and all things diva."
Copyright (c) 2007 The Kansas City Star