News & Awards

Ocoee resident Santia McKoy hosted her first fashion show with models, designs and performances all by her company, S&M Custom Design LLC.

Born and raised in Haiti, McKoy came from humble beginnings. Now, she is taking the world by storm with her unique designs that accent her Haitian culture and her passion for color and creativity.

“With God, everything is possible. Never give up on your dreams,” McKoy said. “World Tour Fashion Show was everything for me. Being able to see my dreams unfold brought me to tears. A little girl from Haiti, did that! It took lots of tears, hard-work, prayer, an amazing support system and team to get here. We managed to overcame all the obstacles and in the end, history was made.”

McKoy’s show featured five different lines with 60 models from across the United States.

Diana Otieno, who modeled in the show and was born and raised in Kenya, said McKoy exceeded her expectations.

“This Fashion show honestly inspired me because I can fully express myself with what I actually want to have on my body,” Otieno said.

Edward Tapia, personal model for S&M Custom Design, said that he was impressed with all of the designs on the runway including his light blue custom design suit.

“With every outfit I wear I feel royal and regal.  World Tour Fashion Show was not the exception,” Tapia. “I felt handsome and empowered as I walked the runway, and the crowd made it known that I looked fierce. One of my favorite moments was working with all the models backstage helping them bring Santia’s creation to life. Designer Santia once told me ‘Edward, the journey to our destiny will never be easy, but you should never forget we are unstoppable.'”

McKoy’s manager and coordinator, Tiffany O’Connor, said the fashion show is only the beginning of the journey.

“In life, one of the most fulfilling feeling is knowing I can help others in accomplishing their goals and dreams, while doing the same for myself,” O’Connor said. “Seeing my sister’s dream unfold on Saturday was the best feeling in the world. All the sleepless nights, hard-work, and tears was well worth the end result.”

In the future, McKoy said she hopes to have many more fashion shows and even open her own stores in Orlando, Los Angeles, New York City and Haiti. She said she hopes to open the stores by 2025.

Written by: Annabelle Sikes, West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com

https://www.orangeobserver.com/article/ocoee-resident-hosts-first-ever-fashion-show

https://www.orangeobserver.com/photo-gallery/2021-world-tour-fashion-show

Fashion was Santia McKoy’s first love and passion.

Born and raised in Haiti, McKoy came from humble beginnings. Unfair labor systems, poor road conditions, dwindling agricultural practices, lack of sanitation and water supply all were common for McKoy.

During her childhood, McKoy spent hours working in her family’s small clothing shop where she first learned to sew. At 16 years old, McKoy fell in love with fashion.

McKoy said she would work relentlessly designing clothes for herself, her friends and other children.

Now, at 36, the Ocoee resident will host her first fashion show with models, designs and performances all by her company, S&M Custom Design LLC.

Although the future for McKoy is bright, accomplishing her dreams has been anything but easy.

“If you want something you cannot simply just wish it,” McKoy said. “I worked hard to make my dreams a reality, and I will not stop.”

DREAM INTO REALITY

In 2007, McKoy immigrated to the United States. She later obtained a degree in medical coding and billing from Valencia College. However, because of the decline in the field, she was unable to find work.

McKoy said that bump in the road only made her more focused on accomplishing her goals.

“I know who I am, and I was confident in myself and the ability that I had to create a life for myself,” she said. “Something difficult for me turned into something that I knew I had to accomplish for myself and my family to show them that you can truly do anything you set your mind to if you just believe in yourself.”

McKoy soon began traveling the United States and Europe, expanding her brand by entering fashion shows and earning a multitude of awards. In 2017, she participated in her first fashion show, where she was hired to help create some of the featured pieces.

However, when one of the main designers faced complications, McKoy stepped up to help with the collection she helped to create — with no professional fashion show experience.

It proved to be a turning point in her career.

WORLD TOUR FASHION SHOW

In 2018, McKoy was invited to her first New York Fashion Week. She entered the show with 23 models featuring unique designs that accented her Haitian culture and her passion for color and creativity. Her line utilized one unique fashion with various styles and clothing design represented throughout the collection.

McKoy said her first time participating in NYFW was a cultural shock. The representation of the models showed lack of diversity and creativity.

“The models all looked the same,” McKoy said. “To me, anyone can be a model, and everyone is beautiful, so there is no specific standard for what beauty is or should be. I knew that I wanted to capture the beauty of everyone being themselves in my collections.”

McKoy again returned to NYFW in 2019 and then attended the Los Angeles Fashion Week the same year.

Now in 2021, McKoy will host her first fashion show —with all designs and models crafted and selected by her.

The World Tour Fashion Show will feature 60 models from across the United States with five different lines, special performances and even some surprises. The show will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, at the DoubleTree By Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld.

“The designs will be something that have never been seen in Orlando, Vogue or New York Fashion Week,” McKoy said. “The designs will do more than look beautiful they will tell a story.”

McKoy said although she loves living in West Orange, she never will forget her roots. She said the turmoil happening in her home country now weighs heavily on her heart.

“It’s very unsettling to see my country go through so much calamity and pain,” she said. “From the killing of our people, the assassination of our president and the recent earthquake. We will soon have a well-deserved time of peace and happiness. Though it doesn’t seem like it now, I believe it.”

In the future, McKoy said she hopes to have many more fashion shows and even open her own stores in Orlando, Los Angeles, New York City and Haiti. She said she hopes to open the stores by 2025.

“I want to have something in fashion for everyone,” McKoy said. “No matter where you come from or where you are at now, now you are who you are meant to be because there is no one in the world like you. You are beauty. You are perfect.”

Written by: Annabelle Sikes, West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com.

https://www.orangeobserver.com/article/you-are-beauty

 
Fashion designer Santia McKoy went from sewing dresses to face masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This time of year, Santia McKoy normally would be designing and sewing custom prom dresses.

The Ocoee fashion designer had some custom dresses already in the works, but then, proms were canceled because of COVID-19.

“All the prom dresses (have been) canceled,” McKoy said. “Everything I was supposed to do was canceled. I have a fashion show I was supposed to do on April 11, but everything is canceled because of the pandemic.”

This time of the year is typically one of the busiest for McKoy’s business, S&M Custom Design, so the recent cancellations hurt her business. Despite the financial impacts, McKoy found a different use for her sewing skills. After hearing about the nationwide short supply and high demand for face masks, she decided to start making them herself. Before she knew it, she switched from stitching prom dresses to cotton face masks. 

“I said to myself, ‘Let me start making some masks and then donate them,’” she said. “I made three and then I did a post (on social media). After that, it was over. Everybody shared it on social media. … Now, everybody is asking me for masks.”

Because they are cotton masks, they don’t offer the same level of protection as N95 masks. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently recommended individuals going out in public should wear some type of cloth face covering to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

“You can still wear the medical masks under it,” McKoy said of her cloth masks. “You can wash it, too. As soon as you get home, you can put it in the washer.” 

Since making the switch, McKoy has sewn hundreds of face masks for health care workers. So far, she has sewn more than 250 masks that were sent locally, as well as to other parts of the country. 

Although she has other designers who work for her and her business, she has taken up the task of making the face masks on her own so the other designers can stay home. She does get a little help from her husband, though. 

McKoy added that although she’s been shipping masks to medical workers, she also has masks available to any individual who might need one. She only asks that individuals who want a mask contribute a donation in exchange for one, as the donations help McKoy make more masks. Individuals who want a mask can reach out to McKoy through social media.

“What inspired me (to help) is the whole situation happening,” McKoy said, referring to the pandemic. “I think it’s necessary for me to help, because I’m in a community that’s helping to support me (through my business), so it’s time for me to show, in some way, (support) back to the community.”

Written by: Eric Gutierrez, Staff Writer

https://www.orangeobserver.com/article/ocoee-fashion-designer-makes-a-stitch-switch

CHOOSE HOPE STORY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-Ik_YdsI9o

Born from a feeling of isolation and a fierce desire to find purpose in the face of helplessness, #ChooseHopeStory is the collective effort of over 250 filmmakers across the globe to share stories of compassion and unity amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic. A global team of filmmakers came together over the course of just ten days to develop the creative, bring together footage, and edit the four-minute video while filming up until the last day on several continents around the world. Each filmmaker brought in their own unique perspective of the pandemic in the film creation – from an expectant mother who is 33 weeks pregnant to a therapist and filmmaker who is struggling with the anger that the uncertainty has caused him. You can watch a film about many of the filmmakers’ experience making this film here: musestorytelling.com/choosehopestory To continue sharing the stories of these incredible moments amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Muse and their community are challenging people from around the world to continue to come together with stories of hope, sharing their inspiring moments on social media with the #choosehopestory.

—————– Muse Storytelling www.musestorytelling.com Musicbed SyncID: MB01AHKI6JSVPEV

Spring typically means prom season, the busy season for Ocoee fashion designer Sentia McKoy but her business of creating custom formal dresses is on hold while she puts her skills to use to help medical workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Facemasks are in short supply and high demand all over the U.S. due to the respiratory illness known as COVID-19.

McKoy is trying to help sewing 24 masks per day using a special African fabric.

The masks are for health care professionals in central Florida and nationwide.

On Friday, she sent a shipment to New Jersey.

Any medical provider who needs a mask can reach out to her Facebook page or website.

To people who know McKoy, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise.

Among the designer’s awards is one also for community service.

With every mask sewn, her community grows.

Written by: Jamie Seh, Sports Director

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2020/03/27/ocoee-dress-designer-using-talents-to-help-healthcare-workers-on-frontlines/

AWARDS & RECOGNITION