There are few people who have made a bigger mark on Lexington’s fashion scene than Soreyda Benedit Begley. Co-founder of the Lexington Fashion Collaborative, Soreyda designs special occasion dresses, wardrobes for stage performers and exciting fashions that often make use of unconventional materials.
Born in Honduras, Soreyda worked in sweatshops as a teenager. Those experiences made her an outspoken advocate for fair trade, women’s rights and sustainable commerce. On top of her design work, Soreyda is a community organizer. She makes time to share her passion with others, giving guest lectures, appearing on television segments and participating in local fashion shows.
TOPS: What influenced you to become a fashion designer?
Soreyda: Nothing really influenced me to become a fashion designer: I was born to be a fashion designer. I grew up in a very remote part of the world (at that time) and I had no idea that the fashion industry even existed as a whole. But ever since I was little, all I wanted to do was to make wearables. And not just duplicate things that I had seen, I wanted to create original, unique pieces. That’s why I started to use unconventional materials: I had no access to sewing supplies, so I used whatever I could put my hands on to materialize my ideas.
As an adult, I have had many influences and people who inspire me to keep going, like my friends, Sarah Jane Estes and Laverne Zabielski. And also my daughter Bella. She is very chic and I love making clothes for her.
TOPS: What advice would you have for someone who wants to become a part of Lexington’s growing fashion culture?
Soreyda: To sew and sketch every day. To practice their walk and poses every day. To experiment with makeup every day. To take pictures every day. You have to practice and advance your skills, and also have samples of your work ready for any opportunity that might come around. In fashion, almost everything is due yesterday.
Also, not to be worried about seeing others as competition in a bad way. Our real point of view on everything is based on our unique life experiences. And that includes our own points of view in fashion. You always have to try your best to stay true to your vision: keep doing you and someone will notice.
Make contact with other fashion enthusiasts. Find or create a group of people who understands and supports your vision. There is potential to develop a real career in this field – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
TOPS: You’re a passionate community organizer and activist. Why is it important to you to be actively involved with the community? What are some of the causes or organizations you’re involved with?
Soreyda: Being community-oriented is a part of my personal and cultural upbringing. Like I mentioned before, I come from a unique and remote area in Honduras and in this part of the world, we relate heavily on each other to survive and to be happy. I’m just practicing what I know works best for having a fulfilling life. And people in Lexington and all around Kentucky have embraced me and supported me for all these years. I feel that it’s important that I give back in some way.
I mostly work with arts and cultural organizations, but I have also been involved with organizations that advocate for comprehensive and companionate immigration, women’s and girls’ rights and peace and justice.
For now, I’m mostly involved with Casa de La Cultura de Kentucky, an organization focused on sharing the Latino arts and culture in this region.
TOPS: What are some of your hobbies outside of fashion?
Soreyda: I love to dance and read. I have danced with a couple of dance crews in town. Most recently with the adult group with Casa de la Cultura de Kentucky. I also love to visit art galleries and museums.
TOPS: Describe your perfect day in Lexington!
Soreyda: Doing some early morning sewing, then going for a walk or to a movie with the family. And a good conversation with a group of friends to close the day.
TOPS: Do you have any upcoming shows, projects or events that you’d like our readers to know about?
Soreyda: This summer, I will be doing a couple of summer camps, one at the Community Arts Center in Danville and another with the Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp. In July I’m going to Chicago to participate as a panelist at the 2nd annual Wakandacon. I’m working in a very exciting advertising campaign with VisitLEX.
I have been a radio co-host for two years of a interview style radio show called Arte y Aparte Lexington. Readers can listen to the show, which airs 3 times a week on El Pulso Latino 95.7FM.
Next year, I’m bringing back the Future of Fashion Show, an event myself and a local photographer started 10 years ago. We did it for 5 years and then stopped. I’m changing the format of it and trying to make it into an event that will build careers and generate real income for the participants. It is the only way that we can develop a fashion industry in this town. Artists need to be compensated for their time, talents and skills. The show will be focused on Hemp fabric made clothing.
Follow Soreyda on Facebook and Instagram: Soreyda Benedit-Begley
photos by Tatiana Aristizábal, Shuling Fister, Chris Begley and Alicia C. Photography