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The black sheep that's not interested in being a part of any cliques, Caressa L. Brown is a Dayton, OH native and resident that comes from a long line of business owners and community activists. A 1998 graduate of Jefferson High School and a 2007 graduate of Wright State University, where she earned a B.S. in Educational/Organizational Leadership. She is working towards a second degree in Urban Affairs Non-profit Management with a minor in City & Regional Planning, and will begin working towards a third degree from The University of Cincinnati in Horticulture in the Fall of 2023. A 2019 Dayton Business Journal Top 40 Under 40 recipient and 2021 Ohio Black Excellence award winner, she has launched the careers of thousands of business owners, models, designers, photographers, HMUA's, stylists, and more as the owner of the first-of-its-kind community focused and volunteer led fashion incubator, the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator.
A caregiver for a disabled mother since the age of 12 years, (DE-FI)'s work is inspired by the financial struggles and lack of support system that Caressa faced in her one time promising career as a model; her story has served as the foundation for (DE-FI)'s programming. With a focus on removing barriers, particularly the financial barriers that prevent many from pursuing their dreams or succeeding in the fashion industry; in just one decade, she has expanded her initial company the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator, into an internationally recognized and highly coveted brand, (DE-FI) Global INC.
She has worked behind the scenes of major New York Fashion Week events produced by IMG/Endeavor via the Council of Fashion Designers of America CFDA and is a founding member of the CFDA Connects Program, where she served as a member of the program's Executive Board in the inaugural year. She currently sits on the Advisory Board for Hocking College's Fashion Design & Retail Merchandising Programs, and is preparing to launch The Cincinnati Fashion Incubator in 2023.
As a result of the unmatched and unparalleled number of success stories that have emerged from the (DE-FI) brand, under Caressa's direction, (DE-FI) has had working relationships and partnerships with multiple colleges, universities, and high schools around the state of Ohio including, The University of Cincinnati, The University of Dayton, Miami University, Kent State University, The Ohio State University, Bowling Green State University, Hocking College, Dayton Regional STEM School, Horizon Academy, Alter, Dayton Early College Academy, Ponitz, and soon Jefferson High School.
From fashion, media, talent, entertainment, business, and more, (DE-FI) alum who have trained or worked under Caressa's guidance have successfully done it all and they've done it all on a global scale, making Dayton and the Southwest Ohio region the Fashion Capital for the development and success of fashion based talent across multiple disciplines. Ultimately fostering a viable, nurturing, independent, and self-sustaining fashion community in Southwest Ohio...and she's made it happen in the most unconventional, (DE-FI)ant, and disruptive way...her way.
Always with the community in mind, Caressa launched Veggie Soul: The Farmers’ Market in 2019 as a way to teach the residents of west Dayton (where she lives) and Trotwood how to garden and become more self-sustaining and self-sufficient in the midst of the food desert, and she offers her services free of charge.
Previously, Caressa has served as a Trustee for the Montgomery County Arts & Cultural District where she served nearly 3 terms; she was a Community Voices producer for NPR affiliate 91.3 FM WYSO in Yellow Springs; and contributor to Dayton Most Metro now 937 Dayton.
Learn more about Caressa L. Brown by following her blog (DE-FI)antly Caressa
Belle Borders is a stylist and a editorial educator that specializes in hair color and updos. She's worked behind the scenes as an HMUA for several regional fashion weeks including Dayton Fashion Week, and she Headlined the Buckeye Fashion awards. She has also had the pleasure of being published in several magazines including Modern Salon, Beauty Links, Retro Lovely, and Prestige.
Currently working toward her B.A. in Education and Science. Belle will soon receive her Elite Educators Certification for Jack Winn Pro and has served as a mentor along side of Wella Professional, Nick Berardi and Marelle Koken at the Harlot Salon in Los Angelas, CA. She's also had the privilege of working along side of international educators Crystal Varnell and Mindy Doll of Jackwinn pro.
Dayton native and longtime art enthusiast, Ed Dixon opened the Edward A. Dixon Gallery in the Fall of 2017 in Downtown Dayton, Ohio. After years of involvement in the music, film and fashion industry, Ed decided to turn his attention to his passion for visual art and began the curation of artwork from artists on a world-wide scale.
Ed has curated and hosted multiple shows at the gallery that have included artists such as Sabrina Terence, Ronnie Williams, Marilynn Page, Erica Arndts and the late, legendary Beatles animator Ron Campbell. Exhibition themes at the gallery have included We’re Doing It ALL Wrong and JOY (That’s Just What I needed). He also served on judging panels for exhibitions and artist grants such as Art of Soul! Juried Art Show presented by NAAMCC , the Ohio Art League Fall Show, the Culture Works Special Projects Grant and the 8-4 Memorial Committee.
Ed has sought to build comfortable and inviting environments for all level of art enthusiasts in his various gallery locations. Making the connection between the general public and visual arts is his number one goal for the Edward A. Dixon Gallery.
Ed serves on the Dayton Art Institute Collections Committee, the Executive Committee for the Dayton Sister City Committee, maintains his realtor license, serves in an advisory role for the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator, writes for his travel blog and is an avid investor.
Visit and support the Edward A. Dixon Gallery
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cliff Fennell is the sole owner of iTOLDuSO Productions LLC and has been in the entertainment and multi-media business for over 10 years. Started off entertaining his peers around the neighborhood since youth and always had the passion to promote positive local talent. He is known for wearing “multiple hats” in the business and has experience with videography, photography, graphic design, directing, hosting (emcee), and event coordination.
Cliff is known for some of his major past events such as: “Legends of the Stage” (with A&R from BET, Roc-a-fella Records, Atlantic Records), “So you think you have Talent” (with Bootsy Collins), “The Greatest Tour” (with Jay Fever from VH1 – “Bring It!” and Jessica Brown from FOX 19), “Community Buzz” TV show on the CW, and more.
Growing up, Cliff was constantly reminded by the “rules of the street”, he had to learn how to survive without falling into the peer pressure of using drugs, alcohol, or joining neighborhood gangs. This motivated him to stay focused on school and concentrate on his future goals. He gives God all the glory for all of his successes. Even when people told him he could not accomplish his goals or that what he wanted to do was impossible, he still succeeded and simply replied, “I told you so” (hence the name of the company). The phrase also has a double meaning. Cliff explains that it is also a means of self-talk motivation. This is something you tell yourself when you conquer the “doubt in you”.
Cliff is now focused on planning events and projects that will build a new ground-breaking platform for Ohio and give recognition to the best kept secrets in Ohio.
To stay in the loop with upcoming events or to view some of his work.
John Flynn's love of photography began when he first picked up a camera at 10 years old. Since then, he's been a devotee of photographs and the things used to make them.
When working with human subjects, his goal isn’t to make someone look perfect, but to make them look like themselves on a great day. When a photographer focuses so much on making someone fit the societal standards of perfection, they rob that person of their character. Your image is his focus, and the soul of that image is personality and character.
The Owner of Clover Storm Photography, John is an experienced manager with a demonstrated history working in the retail brick and mortar and e-commerce industries. Skilled in photography, Microsoft Office Suite, Advertising, WordPress, and Adobe Creative Suite. John is probably best known for his internationally recognized photography work in the pageant and competitive dance circuits.
Learn more about John's work and Clover Storm Photography.
Cindy Gaboury and her husband, Kirby, just celebrated 38 years of marriage and 38 years in business. They are founders and owners of Audio Etc… in Centerville. They have 2 amazing kids and a precious granddaughter.
Cindy serves on the boards of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Kettering Moraine Oakwood Chamber, Women in Business Networking, Women in Christian Leadership and Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator. She is also a member of Centerville Noon Optimist, Home Builders Association and Beavercreek Women’s League.
In 2022, she was named one of Ohio’s Top 500 Most Influential Executives and received the Women in Christian Leadership Lydia Leadership Award. In October of 2023, she will be awarded the BBB/Women in Business Networking Career Achievement Award.
Visit and support Audio Etc...
Marketing Content Creation is Tracey A. Maines Vocation! A graduate of both Washington State Community College where she majored in English Literature and West Virginia University at Parkersburg where she majored in journalism. Tracey has served as a contributing writer and news reporter for The Athens News where she wrote research oriented stories for the Special Projects division; a marketing communications intern for Hocking College; and a freelance columnist for the Logan-Hocking Times.
Throughout her career, Tracey has always dreamed of being a fashion journalist and is ready to show the world that age is only a number and it's never too late to pursue your dreams as she launches her career with (DE-FI) Global INC as a fashion journalist at the ripe young age of 63! Tracey will also serve as media mentor for participants in the Dayton Fashion Week Designer Incubator.
Nay Reynolds is the Owner of Lavish Vixenz Models, a professional, multi-published, modeling agency based in Cincinnati Ohio.
Founded in 2008, Nay's everyday goal is to help aspiring models break into the modeling industry without the hassles and complications most freelance models have to endure by supplying models with the necessary knowledge to become successful.
Lavish Vixenz Model Agency LLC represents diversity in women of color and encourages sisterhood while providing a stable foundation for models to grow and prosper.
Learn more about Nay and Lavish Vixenz Model Agency
Danielle Simpson is a founding member of the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator, currently serves as the Community Advisor for (DE-FI) Global INC, and Treasurer of The Art of (DE-FI)ance.
A graduate of Chaminade Julienne High School, Danielle has gone on to earn her A.A.S in Business Management from Sinclair College, B.S. in Organizational Leadership from Wright State University, and her M.S.E in Community Health and Counseling from The University of Dayton.
She credits her time as a leader in (DE-FI) for her broadened view of the true fashion industry which gave her the confidence to pursue a career as a fashion designer. Danielle is a part of the 2023 Class of Designers for Dayton Fashion Week, where she's launched her company, Dayton Denim and Design to contribute valuable content and knowledge to the (DE-FI) Global Inc network and designing her dreams one stitch at a time.
Muriel Suttles is a licensed social worker with over 35 years of serving children and families. A native of Cincinnati Ohio, she earned a B.A. in Human Services Administration from Antioch McGregor and Master of Social work degree at University of Cincinnati.
A valued member of (DE-FI) since 2016, Muriel got her start with the organization as a model who appeared in (DE-FI)ance Magazine and in 2019 she stepped into a leadership role as the Volunteer Coordinator.
Passionate about being a part of the ever growing and challenging world of modeling, Muriel is actively pursuing her dreams in fashion and is grateful to serve to serve others.
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The Build-A-Brand Experience is back and we are looking for speakers to help our talent and fashion based businesses Reverse Engineer their brands. No fashion experience is needed to lead this signature series…business is business regardless of the discipline. We are looking for speakers that specialize in the following: