We had the good fortune of connecting with Krystal Lewis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Krystal, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
One thing about the fashion industry that is not widely discussed is the extensive process involved in bringing a garment from concept to production. Most people envision the sketches, the fabric swatches, and the finished product; but there is an element of intuition that comes ONLY from experience. When I look at a sketch I don’t just see a picture; I image how heavy or soft the fabric is. I really strategize what embellishments will work with that fabric? If those embellishments are not just on-trend but also eco-friendly? I’m thinking from day one – will I meet the minimum order quantity at the best factory for this project? I look all the way down the line to the box it will ship in and how it will affect logistics costs. This process includes not only the creative aspects such as design and sketching but also the technical aspects such as pattern making, prototyping, and manufacturing. Each step requires specialized skills and knowledge, and any small mistake or oversight can have significant implications for the final product.

What should our readers know about your business?

I started my business during the pandemic while balancing the care of two kids under the age of 5. There were countless overseas phone calls made in the early morning hours and just as many emails sent between apple slices and gluing googly eyes onto things. Often, I could only work in short bursts of 10 to 30 minutes between “adulting” and generally keeping the peace between 2 toddlers. This is a snapshot of the first 2 years of my business. I was generating income but the network that I established in my corporate life was just not equipped to help me grow my business beyond a few lucky shots in the dark.

During this time, I attended some online master classes in freelancing and business ownership. These classes were eye-opening as I learned that I was undercharging and unfocused in my approach. I gained valuable insights into how to attract and retain better clients.

In the beginning of starting this business, I felt dismissed by many people in my circle. This experience led me to establish a new inner circle of freelancers and colleagues who provided the support and encouragement I needed; including my Successful Fashion Freelancer friends and of course my sisters of the Goldman Sachs OMBW program. These programs further equipped me with the skills and network necessary to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.

The struggles I faced in the beginning were invaluable; it made me realize the need to reach more aspiring brand owners at once. This realization led to the creation of my workshop series, ‘Elevate Your Fashion Career,’ so that even those who can’t afford my services can still access the guidance and resources to and guidance I wished I had all those years ago.

So the journey hasn’t been easy but looking back I can see now how every struggle has brought me to this point. Now, I feel stronger and more ready than ever to make Black Unicorn a huge success.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

Well, it really depends on the audience, but in Dallas, there’s always something to do. For a week-long trip, I’d start with a day at the Stockyards, immersing them in the cowboy culture and history. The Bishop Arts District would be a must-visit for its unique shops, galleries, and dining options. Clyde Warren Park offers a great outdoor experience with beautiful views of the city skyline.

For those who love the outdoors, a visit to the Fort Worth Zoo or the Botanical Gardens would be perfect. If they prefer indoor activities, the Angelika Theater or the Perot Museum would be fantastic options, offering engaging cultural and educational experiences.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

Over the past 17 years, a multitude of individuals have played pivotal roles in shaping my journey.

First and foremost, my family—my mom, dad, and siblings—instilled in me the core values of hard work, the fusion of hands and mind, showmanship, and the art of dreaming big.

My husband, Brandon Lewis, stands as a constant pillar of support and encouragement, propelling me forward each day while infusing life with an unparalleled spark.

At TWU, Dr. Sherri Dragoo and Dr. Deborah Young served as guiding forces, consistently steering me toward the right opportunities and pathways.

Aurora East and my Panhandle Slim Family facilitated my transition from college graduate to professional designer, offering unwavering support and guidance.

Alok Sil and my Bioworld Merchandising tribe opened doors to a new realm into factory sourcing which just added jet fuel to my career.  Bioworld provided opportunities to collaborate with globally renowned manufacturers and retailers and to this day the friendships I built there lift me up almost daily.

Scott Graham and my Pinpoint Merchandising family refined my skills, showing me how to effectively work with and grow less established brands. Their mentorship laid the foundation for what is now Black Unicorn Merchandising.

Melissa Hoffmann, a cherished friend turned manager, was a major force in my career both personally and professionally.  As she climbed the corporate ladder she brought me along for the ride; we truly navigated the ups and downs of adulthood together.

Finally, my best friend Crystal has been my moral support and my “codependent confidant” for 25 years, standing by me through thick and thin, and I am endlessly grateful for her presence in my life.

Website: https://www.blackunicornmerch.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackunicornmerchandising/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/krystalraquel/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7UXZdtvSaUjbTZAaV0yXTw

Image Credits
Professional headshots by Elena Cone Photography Candids are shot by me!

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.