Chicago designer hired by Spike Lee, clothing featured in 'Chiraq'

Image 1 of 2

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - A local designer caught the eye of the people who dress the stars on ‘Empire,’ and it would later turn into something big for her.

FOX 32 introduces you to Jermikko Shoshanna, who has now seen many of her dreams become reality.

"I guess I’m proof that it's never too long. I’ve been doing this on my own for 36 years," Shoshanna said.

Shoshanna is already a trailblazer.

"I had a lot of people tell me, you're not gonna be around. You can't do this lady!" she said.

So, she's been working her way up to something big ever since.

Growing up in New Orleans, she remembers one day tearing up her grandmother's white church uniform, taking it down to the river and dyeing it with the ‘red mud.’

"I gave her her uniform. She looked at it. She didn't say a word. She just put it on,” Shoshanna said. “My grandmother's friends said, ‘Julia! What you got on?’ And my grandmother said, 'hush, my grandbaby made me this.'"

Shoshanna added, "That’s when I knew I had somethin! If it was ok for granny, it was ok for everybody else."

Shoshanna has built her own brand, designing clothes for individual clients. But she always dreamed of opening a retail store on the Mag Mile. So, this year, she opened a boutique in "The Shops at North Bridge".

“I had a friend come in one day… are there any African Americans on Madison Avenue? Well, they're not. Are there any African Americans on Rodeo Drive? I said, well, I don't think so. Well, they're not. But you know what, we've got one right here on the Mag Mile. But I’m so tired of being the first," she said.

She stayed for about 7 months and in that time, got a visit from a former costume designer for a show that was starting called ‘Empire.’

"I guess she wanted something for Taraji cuz they looked at coats and jackets. And then she left the show or whatever, she moved on," Shoshanna said.

That costume director moved on before Shoshanna could get her clothes on ‘Empire,’ but she'd later be hired by Spike Lee to shop for one of the stars in his upcoming movie ‘Chiraq.’ However, she wouldn't tell Shoshanna who that was.

"Finally I get this message from her one day that you can shout it from the mountaintop. Your things are being worn by Bassett. I said Yay! I met her, she's a cool lady!"

Shoshanna has since left North Bridge, but continues to work out of her warehouse filling orders for clients like Macy’s and Nordstrom.

And now, she’s also designing shopping bags that tell your "status".

Her self-built empire continues to grow, and she has advice for young designers working to build theirs.

"No is not an option. You have to put the go aside and sometimes you have to put up with things you don't want to put up. You have to put your eye on the goal and you always have to put got first,” she said. "No matter who's telling you all the things you can’t do, you can do it."

You’ll see her designs on Angela Bassett when ‘Chiraq’ is released, which is expected later this year.