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Trendsetting Franklin Avenue Boutique Celebrates a Year of Homegrown Style

By Sonja Sharp | August 1, 2012 7:30am

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — For dressmaker Kimberly Cephas, there is no social faux pas more horrifying than showing up to an event in the same outfit as someone else. 

"We like to go out and party and we can't stand to be in a spot where someone has the same thing as us," said Cephas of herself and the discerning clients who seek her services.

"People come in looking for our custom pieces now." 

The 28-year-old's coveted one-of-a-kind frocks are among the unique, locally-designed urban street wear on offer at Black Rose Boutique on Franklin Avenue, which will fete its first anniversary on the block at the end of the month.  

"The area is coming up so much, so I thought it would be a good location,"  Cephas said of her decision to open the store just blocks from where she grew up.

"I get a lot of great feedback. They like that we're young and we're urban. They've always been very welcoming, welcoming us to the neighborhood." 

Cephas and her partner, Frederic Joseph, 27, who designs custom denim, sell their own creations alongside those of popular local brands, including Brooklyn's Kash and Kush Clothing, Harlem's Goliath and Vault, and New Jersey's Money Banks Clothing

"It's basically a boutique based on urban street wear with a hint of casual, balled into one," Cephas said, pointing to the graphic t-shirts and snapback hats that have been among their top sellers this season  — for both men and women.

"Women want to dress like the guys now." 

But the real surprise has been watching her own work flourish in the small, white-walled storefront on Franklin Avenue just south of Fulton Street, on the border between Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy. 

"We never really thought we'd be working on our own clothing lines," Cephas said. "I've only been doing dresses for about six months, so people coming to me with orders is shocking."

Unlike New York's legion of fashion hopefuls, Cephas has no formal design training. YouTube is her guru, intuition her dress pattern. Simple but sexy is her golden rule. 

"I just taught myself," she said. "I cut from my brain and do it like that." 

Whatever she's doing, it seems to have struck a cord because she is backlogged with orders.

On a recent afternoon, she sat behind the counter at Black Rose with her sewing machine at the ready, one eye on the intern who was designing flyers for the Anniversary Party, which will be held at the store on August 25.

"We'll be doing giveaways of accessories, stickers and pins — and we'll be releasing our new line, of course," Cephas said.

"The grand opening was amazing, so I'm looking forward to the one year being just as good."