A Claremore woman is helping to put the Muscogee (Creek) Nation on the map in the world of fashion and says she hopes to inspire other Native American designers.
Lea McCormick’s Native American inspired handbags have become so popular that she was invited to show them at New York Fashion Week, just 18 months after she made the first one.
She showed 20 purses at New York Fashion Week, which she described as a fairytale moment.
“My eyes started tearing up, and I was just like, ‘Ok I gotta hold on,’ because it was just, seeing the crowd and they were all so happy, it was just, it was surreal,” McCormick said.
McCormick made her first purse 18 months ago only because she was going to an event and couldn’t find a bag that represented the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, which she is a citizen of.
She said she watched some YouTube videos, taught herself how to make the bag, posted some pictures on Facebook and it just took off.
“And then some of the actresses from ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ saw my bags, they wanted them,” McCormick said.
“It just kept going and kept going and...I started making more bags and I started finding more Native fabric, Native printed fabric, and more frames,” McCormick also said.
She said she’s now handmade around 500 handbags inspired by Native American design from Southeastern Tribes. She said representation is important.
“Native Americans haven’t been considered you know, contemporary fashion,” McCormick said.
“I would like for people to realize that we are still here and we do add value and I want people to want to learn about the land that they live on and who was here before and how important it still is to us,” McCormick also said.
McCormick now has her own company, Heruse Tos, which she said means, ‘She is beautiful,’ in the Muscogee language.
She said she hopes she can inspire other Native American women in business and fashion.
“There are several young women from my tribe that have started making clothing...and I want them so badly to know that you can do this, you can go to New York fashion week, it’s attainable it really is attainable, I mean if I can do it,” McCormick said.
McCormick has already been asked to go back to show more of her designs at New York Fashion Week in September. She said she wants to take all Native American models next time to fully represent her and has set up a GoFundMe to help with the costs of it.
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