For Carla Robertson, fashion has always been a do-it-yourself endeavor. At the age of six, Robertson learned how to sew from her mother. By the time she was 12, she was making her own clothes, and at 16, she began sewing custom creations for private clients.

After receiving her associate degree from El Centro College and interning as a sample cutter for a local manufacturer, she knew a career in clothing production would not provide the creative freedom and variety she craved. For Robertson, “Variety meant learning to be an entrepreneur in the field.” She decided her next step would be to pursue her bachelor’s degree in costume and textile design at Texas Women’s University.

Every Friday during her time at TWU, Robertson walked down University Drive to what was then M.E. Moses and purchased fabric to make new outfits to wear the next week. She participated in her first fashion show and studied under designer-in-residence Les Wilk, renowned designer of Miss Texas and Miss America pageant gowns during the 1970s and 80s. She also became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, where she made outfits for sorority step shows and participated in group community service projects.

After graduating from TWU, Robertson launched her solo business venture, C. Adele Creations, where she designs such things as custom wedding gowns, costumes, and women’s wear for her private clients. In 1999, Robertson was inspired by her pastor, who encouraged his congregation to pass on their unique talents by teaching the next generation. It was then the idea for Robertson’s “Sewing for Life” program was born, and she began teaching group and individual sewing classes to children in her community and at the SALT Educational Co-op, a Christian homeschooling organization. She also began her collaboration with Abi Ferrin’s Fashion+Freedom+Purpose Project, where she served as a vocational trainer for women coming out of tracking and domestic violence situations. As part of her outreach, Robertson has traveled to Kenya, Haiti, and Papua New Guinea to educate and encourage instructors and students as they develop their own sewing skills and businesses.

When asked about her proudest moments among her many, many achievements, Robertson expresses gratitude and humility. She is thankful for the opportunity “to impact women here and on the other side of the world,” and the ability “to touch lives on a daily basis. To know that God has given everyone innate talents, dreams, and abilities, helping them tap into that, is my greatest joy.”