Blackberry Maverick is one of 14 emerging design companies chosen from 300 applicants to stride into national focus at Phoenix Fashion Week in October, making it the first
"Getting picked was such a whirlwind, and I think we were a little under prepared about what we were getting into it," said
Even if they don't win, Raney and Robertson hope the opportunity will not only garner more attention for their collection -- a melding of classic styles from the '50s with the edginess of the '80s -- but will also lift
Before they were offered the opportunity to hit the runway in
"When you first start out you get hung up on a million times," Robertson, 27, said. "They basically said, 'You're new and we don't care.'"
"The amount of people in the whole fashion scene in
That spirit of perseverance and pioneering is reflected in the company's name. "Blackberry" represents the founders' childhood activity of tramping through thorns to the ultimate reward of the juicy fruit -- a metaphor for the often painful cost of success. "Maverick" is for who they and their customers are: fearless, edgy women who don't take "no" for an answer.
"Being a maverick for us is being different and knowing that people are going to reject us, but we're still going to get up and carve that path," Raney, 30, said.
Raney and Robertson met through a mutual friend years ago and bonded over their love of fashion. The pairing was serendipitous, Robertson said. Raney had technical design knowledge from her studies at
But the pair learned even more since operations began in
"There are a million young designers that want to make clothes, but it's about 15 percent designing and 85 percent business," Robertson said.
Although neither had any prior business experience, they've learned how to manage along the way. By simplifying design, they've lowered their prices from about
"We had these grand ideas of things," Raney said. "We learned to scale down, to edit.'
All of these lessons have come while they each hold down waitressing and bartending jobs to pay the bills and recoup some of the
"My parents always taught me if you work hard you can do anything," Robertson said. "So I will make it work."
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