Reagan Charleston, jewelry designer and cast member of Southern Charm New Orleans, has joined Canal Place’s newly created Style Board program. As one of five mentors, she will provide local Louisiana college students with opportunities to become involved in the decision-making process of the fashion industry.
The Southern belle grew up in Mandeville, but she spent her childhood at her grandparents’ French Quarter art gallery on Toulouse Street. “I grew up watching my mother and grandparents create copper sculptures in their studios and galleries, so I always knew that if I wanted something made, I could do it myself,” she says. “I was also fortunate to watch my aunt in the jewelry industry during her 30 plus years with Mignon Faget as their Head of Design and Model Making.”
Charleston launched her own jewelry line in 2012 after returning from a trip to Florence, Italy. She wanted to commemorate her trip and pay homage to her heritage with a lion pendant (her family’s art gallery was at the Court of Two Lions). “Shortly thereafter, people started to inquire how they could purchase their own and the rest is history,” she says. “I am currently working on several new jewelry collections that will be introduced in the fall, and also expanding into home goods and house wares.” She also will be opening a retail location on the second floor of Canal Place in the fall.
It’s this unique background and experience in the fashion industry that makes Charleston a perfect mentor for the exclusive group of 25 highly qualified students from Dillard University, Louisiana State University, Loyola University New Orleans, Southern University, Tulane University and Xavier University of Louisiana. “The Style Board was created by Canal Place to meet the needs of a growing fashion industry in the city and the region,” Charleston says. “We are serving the New Orleans community by mentoring young fashion entrepreneurs and students, as well as working with national businesses and companies to ensure that the New Orleans lifestyle is on par with the best metropolitan cities in the country.”
Charleston will work closely with the other board members (Tracee Dundas, New Orleans Fashion Week Founder; Angelle Marix, Dashing Darlin’ blogger; Michelle West, blogger, actor and model; and Caitlyn Milligan, Milligan Movement blogger) and Canal Place to foster a unique fashion mentor experience for the students. The monthly meet ups will focus on different industry-related topics, including fashion design, marketing and branding. Style Board mentors will help lead the Style Board programming and guide the students on their path toward a career in the fashion industry.
“[I will] share my six years of expertise and experience in the fashion industry, as well as work with the board to help bring the best of fashion and lifestyle to downtown New Orleans,” she says. “As a young female business owner, I am thrilled to share my experiences with other young entrepreneurs and professionals, and help them navigate the industry. I am also thrilled to see likeminded creatives come together in the area and expand their networks and knowledge base.”
Ever since Charleston started her company, she rarely ever contracted out for services. So in addition to the artistic creation, she has done her own product photography, graphic design, advertising, marketing, social media, production and more. “There isn’t one aspect of my business that I didn’t personally learn how to do on my own,” she says. “I want to lead the student members not only by example, but also teach them technical and useful skills that aid any entrepreneurial endeavor.”
Each of the board members will also directly influence the services and offerings of Canal Place.
“Our board members are well-seasoned, well-traveled and well-connected fashion business owners, influencers and entrepreneurs,” Charleston says. “We are all thrilled to work with Canal Place to utilize our lifestyle experiences to bring what other cities have to offer to Downtown New Orleans. Canal Place is going to be the hub of lifestyle and fashion on the Gulf Coast. We will have everything that other major metropolitan cities offer, but of course, with a New Orleans flair.” canalplacestyle.com
On her experience as a cast member on Southern Charm: “It has been so exciting,” she says. “I love being a part of the Bravo family, and although my line was already carried internationally by Luisa Via Roma, the show has exposed my line to so many new people! The response has been tremendous!”
How this renaissance woman spends her free time: “I work 24/7, but I enjoy my pets and keeping up with my girlfriends,” she says. “I also sit on the board for Jennifer Hale’s Sideline Pass, which provides mentorship and fundraises to provide academic scholarships for young women in need in the Gulf Coast region.”