The Oct. 19 fashion and art event at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, 1000 N. Harbor Drive in San Diego, will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure San Diego, a charitable group that since 1995 has raised more than $11.9 million to fund free diagnostic mammograms, treatment and services for local uninsured and underinsured women and their families, plus breast cancer research.

Whitney Francis — who designs under the name Whitney Nicole and owns Creative Fashionista — said she will have more than a dozen designs for women and men featured.

The 25-year-old daughter of Carmel Mountain Ranch residents Olivia Francis and John Francis moved to the area as an eighth-grader in 2001. After attending Meadowbrook Middle School in Poway she went to Rancho Bernardo and Abraxas high schools.

Francis said a maternal aunt was a seamstress and she inspired her interest in fashion at a young age. “Clothes can be a fun and exciting way to express yourself,” she said.

The member of RB High’s Class of 2006 said after her junior year she was so eager to start her formal training as a fashion designer that she transferred to Abraxas in order to complete her senior year early. However, she walked with her RB High classmates at June graduation.

“I found my passion and was so driven,” she said, explaining her decision was based on courses to earn her associate degree in fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising beginning in what would have been April of her senior year. Had she not graduated early, she would have needed to wait several months to enroll.

By 2010, she launched Creative Fashionista. Clients have her come to them or they go to her studio in San Diego’s Gaslamp District to buy her one-of-a-kind designs off the rack or request she make them in their size and preferred colors. While Francis said she is interested in designing on a freelance basis for a company that mass produces clothing, she favors spending most of her time working on individual designs for clients.

“I (design) women’s wear and special occasion resort wear,” she said. “This year I’ve launched a men’s wear line.”

Francis said she makes handmade, one-of-a-kind items based upon her clients’ needs and tastes. Her influences are the bohemian lifestyle, items with “an antique sort of feel” and recently she has been inspired by ballet.

“The connection between two ballet partners is so romantic,” she said, adding she is drawn to ballet’s grace.

As for why she has thus far stayed away from mass producing her designs that are typically bought by those ages 14 to 35, Francis said, “There is something so intimate about knowing my client and providing customer service. … I love the interaction.”

She has studio and home consultation options to accommodate her clients’ wishes and to make them comfortable, Francis said. “I love the one-on-one interaction and the possibilities are endless,” she said. “I can make anything for anybody.”

Half of the requests are for everyday attire while the rest are for special events, including wedding dresses. Clients in the Rancho Bernardo area most often request prom dresses. Ready-to-wear items are $50 to $300, while custom designs start at $350, she said.

At Exhibit Ambush Phase 2 Francis said she will feature mix-and-match items plus focus on those that can be layered. Her previous fashion shows include Exhibit Ambush in 2010 and last year’s Fashion Week San Diego.

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