Quanesha Richardson, a senior fashion design and merchandising major at Mississippi State University, has made a mark on her community through her business, Rich Clothing.
Founded in 2013, Rich Clothing helps girls, who cannot otherwise afford a dress, get the prom dress of their dreams.
"Rich Clothing is my way of giving back to the community by helping girls that are less fortunate," Richardson said. "I provide handmade prom dresses to ladies who might not have the chance of purchasing their own dresses."
Growing up around entrepreneurial minded parents, Richardson developed a passion for business. However, it was during her junior year of high school that her entrepreneurial spirit took flight.
"I was in a program at my high school that was for the top 10 percent of my class," Richardson said. "We took strictly college-based courses, and one of the courses was an art class. In the class I had to create a portfolio, so I had the idea of Rich Clothing, and I have since grown it into a business."
As a way to positively impact her high school and the young girls in her community, Richardson came up with her prom dress gentrification idea, along with the help of one of her professors. In fact, the first prom dress project for Rich Clothing was Richardson’s own prom dress.
"I am an advocate for victims of bullying, and my goal is to lessen the pressure of girls who are struggling, by at least giving them an opportunity to attend prom," Richardson said.
Richardson’s goal with her business is to make girls feel special. She said she vividly remembers how important prom was to all the girls during high school, and understands this event can carry a lot of social pressure, especially on those who cannot afford to go all out for the event.
"By providing girls with their own unique dresses I can ease the societal pressure on high school age girls, and lessen the amount of bullying in their day-to-day lives," Richardson said.
Aaliyah Gibson, one of Richardson’s customers, said she looks up to Richardson like a big sister.
“I met Nesha my senior year of high school after I lost my mom to cancer. Nesha made my prom dress for free, and she completely exceeded my expectations. It was elegant and simple, and she is super talented,” Gibson said. “Not only did Nesha design my dress, but she also gave me a complete makeover, and I am forever appreciative and thankful for what she has done for me."
Richardson’s mom, who recently passed away, was her number one supporter, and encouraged her to chase her entrepreneurial dreams. Richardson’s projects have strictly been in her home town, Columbus, Mississippi.
"I do plan on branching out and reaching to other communities because I plan on moving after graduation," Richardson said. "Since Rich Clothing is community based, the business moves with me."
Rich Clothing is strictly donation based. Using donated formal dresses, Richardson recreates the dresses into one-of-a-kind pieces to make its new owner feel glamorous on prom night.
"I accept all kinds of dresses, just drop them by my house, and I will take them free of charge," Richardson said.
Despite the pressure in today’s culture to be up to date on the latest TV show or active in local party scenes, Richardson’s main passion is fashion design.
"I am not big into partying, social media or TV, so I have a lot of time to focus on my craft, and push my creativity side," Richardson said.
Hubert Richardson, Quanesha Richardson’s father, is proud of what his daughter is doing to make a difference in the community.
"My wife and I taught Quanesha to give back to the community," Hubert Richardson said. "Quanesha feels for others, especially people struggling, because she experienced bullying during high school, which is what I think sparked her passion for becoming an advocate for bullying."
Alongside supporting underprivileged girls, Richardson hopes Rich Clothing can become a more mainstream fashion style.
"The last thing I want is for someone to miss out on an opportunity of going to prom because they did not know about my business," Richardson said.
Keep up with Richardson’s latest outreach projects and programs on her Instagram account @nesharich_.