Ocoee Fashion Designer Santia McKoy returned last month with her second S&M Custom Design World Tour Fashion Show.
The event, which took place June 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld featured 70 uniquely created designs and over 50 models from across the globe.
The fashion show showcased seven different collections: Juneteenth, La Vie En Noir, 16 Shades of Pink, Here Comes the Bride, The Game, Hot Boy Summer and Designer.
McKoy said although the show is hard work, it's also rewarding for her personally and professionally.
"I do it for the culture, I do it for all, I do it for every single shape, age, size, everybody," the fashion designer said. "I do not discriminate anybody. We celebrate diversity of everybody...everyone is equal."
McKoy is no stranger to the struggles of feeling different and dealing with varied opinions, good and bad.
Born and raised in Haiti, she came from humble beginnings. Unfair labor systems, poor road conditions, dwindling agricultural practices, lack of sanitation and water supply all were common for McKoy and her family.
She credits her strength to her family, staff and models.
"Because of the family, this love that I have for them, it gives me peace, knowing I can keep going," McKoy said. "I could not be where I am today without my husband and my children's support."
MEET THE MODELS
Although the show featured over 50 models, five of the models sat down with the Orange Observer before the show to share their experiences and stories from across the world.
Edward Tapia, one of McKoy's personal models, has been with her since the beginning of the designer's journey.
Tapia said one of his favorite things about S&M Custom Design is that beauty is celebrated in every individual.
"She (McKoy) has put me in pieces that I never thought I could wear," Tapia said. "Being able to bring her creations to life is what inspires me the most....she (McKoy) embraced me just the way I was, for who I was."
Marcus Jackson, from Virginia, walked in the show for his first time this year and said although he has walked in several shows, what McKoy brings to the table is unique and bold.
"You become the piece and once it becomes one with you, people really realize how good the clothes are and how good the designer is," Jackson explained.
Zodonis Francois, another one of McKoy's personal models, said he likes to incorporate his passion for acting while being on the runway.
"Especially with the African style music...you feel it and you want to strut it out...it's fun but also empowering," Francois shared.
Vladymir Constant, originally from Haiti, said one of his main inspirations in working with McKoy is the cultural aspects she showcases in her clothing lines.
Britney Celamy, from Boston, Massachusetts, said although her fashion journey only started two years ago, she agrees with Constant in his expression of the cultural impact McKoy's designs make.
Although the future for McKoy is bright, accomplishing her dreams has been anything but easy.
“If you want something you cannot simply just wish it,” McKoy said. “I worked hard to make my dreams a reality, and I will not stop.”