Local Fashion Designer Wins Deal With Belk

4:59 PM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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Molly Stevens

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- A Midlands fashion designer is getting a big break from a regional retailer.

"It was in all caps 'congratulations' and my heart just started pounding."

At 25, Molly Stevens already has a fashion line a a major retailer. She won Belk's Southern Designer contest with pieces from her Ellen & Ollie collection.

"I was checking my email that whole day and it got to be 5:45 and I was like, 'I didn't get it, I know I didn't get it,'" Stevens said. "And then about 6:00 I got the email. I was like, 'Are you kidding?'"

Stevens has been designing since high school, but sun dresses weren't always her expertise.

"I remember thinking, 'OK, I can't do it. That's all right.' And then I got this fabric in that I loved that I had ordered and I was like 'I'm going to try it one more time,'" she said. "And I got it to work and I was so excited."

The Clemson graduate and nutrition major started making dresses for herself and others. Then a friend who worked in a boutique encouraged her to put some of the Ellen & Ollie pieces in her store.

"Spring of my senior year of college I put 27 dresses in there and we couldn't keep them in the store," she said.

Stevens said being a designer is all about making nothing into something.

"It was such a neat feeling to take a flat piece of fabric and make it into something that girls actually like and want to wear and they're excited about," Stevens said.

Ellen & Ollie will be featured at 44 Belk stores including the Belk in Columbiana Mall. Her designs are also available at M Boutique in Columbia.

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