Haute Secrets with Fashion Guru Karen Michelle

Fashion Guru, Karen Michelle

Often described as a powerhouse and as a formidable force in her community, Dallas native and Founder of Front House Management, Karen Michelle is well known for her role as the producer behind “The Celebrity Fashion Experience,” a successful platform where she brought Project Runway and celebrity designers, including local Dallas talent, together to create a unique fashion experience.

Karen’s passion for the entertainment industry began when she auditioned for various television series and ended up working behind the scenes on CW33 sitcoms, Living Single and Parenthood. Working in television is where she found her niche and catapulted her career. In 2008 Karen got her first break when she produced Phantom Runway benefiting the Genesis Women’s Shelter. Subsequently, it was her experience producing and her fascination with marketing, fashion and public relations that combined to help her form Front House Management (FHM) in 2010.

Since 2010 FHM has developed strategies for clients at local and national levels by creating media driven campaigns for a myriad of lifestyle brands. In her early years at FHM, she worked with film director, James Belzer on the project of The Tents and produced NYFW shows in 2015. Building on her company’s exemplary reputation for professionalism, Karen also took the opportunity to coordinate creative collaborations and sponsorship opportunities within the DFW area by helping clients and non profit organizations to generate funds.

Karen’s career has taken her on a multitude of paths throughout the years. She has worked with international model/ photographer, Mike Ruiz, has been interviewed on Telemundo and Total Accesso and when she’s not behind the stage, can be found speaking about marketing and public relations at various colleges and universities.

Recently, Karen has embarked on her newest journey, and is in her third year of producing and coordinating Shades of Success where she highlights and recognizes women of various shades that are successful and giving back to their community. This year’s Shades of Success Gala: Dallas’ Influential Women will be held on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at the Magnolia Hotel in Dallas.

Living by her mantra, “What Makes You Influential Is Your Voice,” we can all rest assured that we haven’t heard the last from Karen Michelle!

The Women of Shades of Success
2016 Shades of Success Honorees: (L to R) Lumbie Mlambo, Lin Johnson, Star Williams, Dr. Trina Pullum, Tatyana Murphy, Danyel Surrency-Jones, Bianca Davis, Angie Ransome-Jones, Stefani Morrow and Dr. Regina Spellmon

Who were your style icons growing up? I never had a style icon growing up. I don’t want to lie to my readers, but I had my own sense of style. My confidence allowed for anything to look amazing on me! Lol

What do you think has influenced your career the most? My mom passing is what influenced me the most. I never knew how empowering and influential she was until the day of her funeral. I remember turning around looking behind me and seeing the church packed to the walls. I knew right then that she was influential to many lives by seeing students from class of 1986 to 2014 present. She influenced me to be the best I can be in whatever career path I decided. 

What do you think is your biggest challenge in your career? My biggest challenge would be bringing new and creative ideas to an audience that doesn’t know how to see outside the box.   

How do you think Dallas’ design and fashion industries differ from other places nationally? I believe Dallas can be amazing one day in the fashion industry. What makes fashion so different in other places; they’re more open to the personality that’s behind the label and not so much their social status.

Do you have any mentors and if so; who are they and what did you take away from them? I have three mentors that I watch by far; Kelly Cutrone, Fern Mallis and Oprah Winfrey. What I love so much about them is that they are completely organic about everything they say and believe in. All three of them have displayed to me what it takes to be a CEO and how to finish the race.  

What clothing item could you not live without? I couldn’t live without a little black dress.

Go to beauty product? My Dior Airbrush foundation spray saves my life everyday.

Where does your inspiration come from? My inspiration comes from the light within me. I learned that from a local poet name Temidara; up lift the mind, up lift the soul, use the light within to see past the illusions, she is a powerful underground poet.

Working on any new projects? Future plans? The future withholds a lot for my brand. I will be expanding Shades of Success to the east coast as well as adding a summer camp program for under privilege teens.

 What other non-profits or charities do you work with? I enjoy working with Women Called Moses (domestic violence) and I’m looking forward to working with World Noor Foundation this summer 2016.

What’s the key to your success? I think with a diversity mind-set.  

What do you think is the importance of having successful and visible women in business? The most important thing would have to be your loyalty in every aspect of your career.

As a mother of a young girl how do you try to empower her? I teach her to believe in herself and to always love those around her. She pretty much has that covered, as she always greets people with a loving hug.

Would you consider yourself a feminist? No, I know we hold a lot of power but it’s up to us as woman to birth our purpose and be heard. We all have it in us and we have to learn how to encourage the next woman. I’m only a midwife to what already exist.  

What do you think is womens’ biggest challenge in empowering one another? Competing! We have to learn that our purpose on earth is going to be different from the next women. Everything we do may look the same, but I guarantee it will shine differently.

Where were you born: Plano, Texas

How long have lived in Dallas: All my life

Neighborhood: Hamilton Park

Occupation: Fashion Industry Guru

Favorite Restaurant: III Forks

Best Sushi: Sushi Axiom

Best Italian: Patrizio’s

Best dessert: Wild Berry Cobbler

Best Sunday brunch: Taverna

Best place for a power business meeting: Royal Blue Grocery/cafe Highland Park Village

If you have out of town guests, which hotel would you recommend? Magnolia Downtown Dallas

Favorite shopping venue/boutique: Dior Beauty Highland Park Village

Favorite place to buy jewelry/watches: Exclusive Designer Trudi Bell of Jewelarie

Best Spa: Rosewood Crescent

Favorite Charity Event: Shades of Success

Favorite Cultural Event: Social Latino

Favorite Cultural Institution: Dallas Museum of Art

Best Steakhouse: Texas De Brazil

Best Lunch: Mi Cocina

Best Gym/Athletic Facility: V12 Yoga

Best Massage: The Woodhouse Day Spa Plano, Texas

Best Limousine/Driving Service: Uber

Best Museum/Exhibit: John Paul Gaultier. “From the sidewalk to the catwalk.”

Describe your city in three words: Adventurous, Questionable, Motivating.

All-around favorite spot in Dallas: Rooftop at the Nylo Hotel Southside on Lamar

Best Aspect of Dallas: Night Life

How do you spend your downtime? A cocktail and pure entertainment from my friends and family.

What Dallas social event do you look forward to all year? Shades of Success!

What’s your dream event? My dream event would be anything that’s empowering others to strive towards their dreams.

Biggest Accomplishment: My biggest accomplishment was giving birth to my daughter Morgan Drew Pearson after doctors told me I would never be able to conceive. There’s something about telling me the word “No” or “Can’t.”

Philanthropist, Producer and Fashion Guru: Karen Michelle

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Photo Credit: QC Quoc Cong/ Private Papparazzo