Our Fashion Legacy
About GSyndicates™ Magazine
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GSyndicates™ Enterprises (GSyndicates LLC) has over twenty sister departments and several subsidiaries. We started with one fashion line, GSIA. Our network is now over twenty businesses strong. Continue reading to learn about our fashion legacy.
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GSyndicates™ began as a “Made in the USA” project of fashion and couture artist, Shenica Renee Graham. She founded GSyndicates™ and Haute Midwest Magazine with Sponsor, House of Sherell, following her apparel and accessory designer début (collection titled GSIA – now part of GSyndicates™) at the House of Sherell Fashion Extravaganza on November 6, 2013.
“I have designer genes and designer jeans!“Shenica R. Graham, Founder / President / CEO, GSyndicates Enterprises
Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane
First, since Black hair is certainly a topic on the fashion front lines, let me pay homage to my own maternal Great Grandmother (at left), Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane (born c. 1909), who was the first Black woman to own a Velvatex College of Beauty Culture in Kansas. She was the twin daughter of her slave mother and their slave owner. Many of the women in my family would say that I inherited my great grandmothers’ gift for haircare.
The following is an excerpt about the founder of Velvatex: “In 1926, M. E. Patterson of Little Rock incorporated Velvatex College of Beauty Culture, then known as Velvatex Beauty College, which was the state’s only approved beauty school for people of color… Patterson dubbed the school “Velvatex” because she believed African-American hair emulated the feel of velvet.” « read more
Hayman, Syd. “Like Velvet.” Arkansas Times, February 2019. Online at https://arktimes.com/entertainment/ae-feature/2019/02/01/like-velvet-history-in-black-hairstyles-in-arkansas (accessed February 1, 2021).
Hayman, Syd. “Velvatex College of Beauty Culture.” Encyclopedia of Arkansas, August 2020. Online at https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/velvatex-college-of-beauty-culture-14491/ (accessed February 1, 2021).
Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans
Celia Lucinda’s daughter, my maternal Grandmother, Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans (September 15, 1931 – April 20, 2013) was one of the Lane owned Velvatex College’s first graduates. Lucinda was born on September 15, 1931 in North Little Rock, Arkansas to Mr. and Mrs. James (Lucinda) Lane. Annie was the oldest girl of nine children. Annie married Harrell K. Evans on May 14, 1950. They were married for 48 years, 9 months, and 28 days. Grandma Lucinda was also a prolific seamstress who was gifted to make fine apparel without patterns, simply from the ideas in her creative spirit – that entity shared by all designers.
Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris
Annie Lucinda’s daughter, my mother, Mrs. Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris is the Founder and CEO of House of Sherell, a fashion design business. Deborah was born on February 21, 1956 in Wichita, Kansas. From the age of six, Mrs. Morris carried the dream of launching a fashion mogul. She is now capitalizing on the many skills gained from her leadership role as a Supply Sargent in the US Army.
In 2007, she founded Sherell Ra Sha Inc, a consignment and service company with a vision of helping families recover from poverty and natural disaster.
This leap secured the fact of faith in her vision. The business saw its first major progress when Mrs. Morris enrolled in a fashion design program at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in the fall of 2011, leading to development of the first fashion show, which was held in 2013. I debuted my first fashion line at that show.
Part of my heritage of fashionpreneurs, my mother has served veterans and civilian families for over fifty years with a variety of talents. She is a highly gifted seamstress and creative force who has inspired and empowered many others including myself (I am still writing my own fashion herstory).
Shenica R. Graham
GSyndicates Media is a creative powerhouse. When you plug in, your vision gets brighter!”Shenica R. Graham – Founder, GSyndicates Enterprises
I (Shenica Renee Graham) was born on October 14, 1977 in Long Beach, California. I am the great-granddaughter of Celia Lucinda (Upshaw) Lane, the granddaughter of Annie Lucinda (Lane) Evans, and a lifelong apprentice of my mother, Deborah Kay (Evans) Morris (Owner / Designer of Iowa’s premiere fashion house, House of Sherell).
I learned to sew as a child while sitting on the floor near mother’s chair as she whisked her Singer classic sewing machine through everything from hats to draperies. I have been designing doll clothes since age 6, sitting at the feet of her sewing mother. Her maternal grandmother was also a talented and influential seamstress. I began began designing clothes for myself at age nine. I like to say, “I have designer genes and designer jeans!“
Though I naturally developed a love for fashion, my dreams were diverted by nagging health problems including severe depression. I battled low self-esteem and had a difficult time breaking free from a downward spiral that left me in a virtual hermitage.
In high school, I could from time to time be found sewing throughout the night, making clothes to wear the next day. As a Sophomore, I made the graduation dress for one of my Senior high school friends. his friend was her my first paying client as a teenager. Furthering my fashionpreneure spirit, I made and sold plush bears dressed in my original designs. A high-school counselor bought my most-expensive item: a bear dressed in a red, couture gown with hand sewn embellishments. In college, Shenica continued to create wearable art including custom painted t-shirts.
In 2013, I founded fashion label, GSIA – one of the best decisions I ever made. I still recall the mélange of excitement and anxiety of stepping out of my comfort zone to launch a creative project beyond the borders of self-seclusion. After battling depression for several years, I was inspired by my mother to take up a lost art from my youth. Following a series of hospitalizations, I was once again at a crossroad. My mother, who had gone back to college to pursue a fashion design degree, was already well on her way to becoming a Senior in her program (class of 2018! Whoot! Whoot!). She offered me the chance of a lifetime…
My mother and I are traditional pageant watchers. Our favorite competitions are the evening gown, talent, and costume competition (as with the Miss Universe pageant). With the rise of reality television, we have become regulars in the home-front row, watching the likes of Project Runway and Making The Cut (we love Tim and Heidi!). When I accepted my mother’s offer to join in a fashion business as Chief Information Officer (CIO, based on my compu-tech savvy) and Senior Fashion designer, Mom was already planning to host a fashion show in November.
It felt like I had stepped into a Cinderella story. The pumpkin bloomed and I had made it to fashion week!”
Mom and I even had a private competition. We sequestered ourselves to a sewing environment with our own one-to-one challenges in a mock project runway. I won that contest (to be fair, Mom did have some heart trouble the week before and had just been released from the hospital when we started the competition. Thank God she came out well).
I am so humbled and grateful for this opportunity. The power of someone else believing in you when you cannot see your value is priceless. Becoming a fashion designer is something I had dreamed of yet did not have the courage to pursue. It was too personal; and that made it too risky. My mother is my hero for giving me a gentle nudge, picking me up every time I fell, and supporting me whilst I learned to stand on faith. Helping her to build this business is something at which I work very diligently. I want her to know that she can count on me to be her best champion, the way she has always been for me.
Coming out of that shell to do something so public; putting all of me into a product and subjecting it to scrutiny, was an is frankly, terrifying. I had spent so much life force building walls to protect what was my fragile shell. It was difficult to see myself any other way.
In this whirlwind of new experiences, I finally found my niche beyond the written word – a hobby turned into several published articles and unfinished manuscripts. Thus, I joined Mom and one younger brother to officially launch the fashion business. This trio hosted a fashion show and banquet, which received rave reviews. As fate would have it, my finally look (which I entitled, “Marilyn”) was, “… the show maker,” according to Mom. The success of my first line preview sparked a new venture, Haute Midwest Magazine. The magazine allowed me to fulfill my love of journalism and creative writing, while staying informed in my new career field and advancing the goals of House of Sherell, our family’s premiere fashion house. The magazine is a testament to the constant flow of new ideas and talented energy in our entire family.
The second chapter in GSIA history has already begun. With the success of Haute Midwest magazine and finding a new creative voice, I am launching full-time into fashion. Yet a computer programming student, I plan to add fashion design to my educational portfolio, which includes two Bachelor of Arts degrees. To pay success forward, I am happy to sponsor future fashion moguls, which is part of my new design business including expertise in fashion and media, GSyndicates.
My designs complement a variety of body shapes and sizes. My first full-sized (not just for dolls and bears) apparel and accessory collection, GSIA™ (GSyndicates Iowa, now part of GSyndicates™), was featured at the November 2013 House of Sherell Fashion Show & Banquet. The star of the collection was a pearl white suit dubbed, “Marilyn.” This show stopper (shown at left) was born in one of Shenica’s bursts of manic energy (a nod to her Bipolar battle – Shenica was diagnosed with PTSD, Major Depression, and Schizoaffective Bipolar Disorder (following a near death experience). My condition is managed by medication, allowing me to thrive creatively (learn about my mental health activism).
Reprinted by permission from Haute Midwest Magazine.
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