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Conway native Regina Barrett has been sewing since the age of 13, self-taught, with help from YouTube over the years. 

She says that she has grown as a designer and enjoys creating avant-garde and couture pieces for her clients.

Over Memorial Day weekend a bride Barrett described as daring and one who thought out-of-the-box wore one of the Northampton County native’s creations — a couture handmaid gown constructed of card stock.

The bride selected a rose gold color. The gown had approximately 250 pieces which included 100 fan-like pages folded by hand and adorned with about 200 rhinestone jewels.

Barrett says she was glad to make the gown for the bride — Tashonda Bowser, a Raleigh teacher who married a Raleigh principal, Lakeshia Smith on May 29 at the Royal Banquet Center in Raleigh. 

The couple hosted about 150 guests. Bowser had three dress changes for her big day, and Barrett, her personal designer, for two of them. "I have recently discovered other paper dresses at fashion shows, art events, and in magazines but I never saw anyone wear them to their wedding, especially with the pressure of such a big day,” said Barrett. “This bride, Mrs. Tashonda, now Bowser-Smith, was bold and I am truly thankful that she had trust and confidence in my work and my brand Nova Threadz to allow me to be an intricate part of her big day. It was all the more special that she was family." 

The paper couture started as an experiment, Barrett said. “I made gowns in 2017 for my daughters and I to do a fun photoshoot and fell in love with the prevalence of paper and the fact that it's recyclable.”

Her Nova Threadz company is a curated clothing brand geared toward making a bold statement with confidence in mind. “I believe that what you wear should inspire self-confidence and make you feel amazing.” 

The brand is tailored to who Barrett describes as “our queens and princesses and offers unique designs that range from casual to couture. While we don’t currently, we are hoping to soon offer plus size and men’s apparel.”  

Barrett will do custom pieces, she said, “Whether you are looking for something unique and creative like that Met Gala look or a flawless evening or bridal gown.”

Her items are currently handmade per order and there are items on her website available for purchase.

Barrett hopes to continue growing her skills as an emerging clothing designer. “I want to do more bridal as that has always been a passion of mine, hopefully design for pageants, and one day the Met Gala.”

As for her brand, “I'd like it to become a household name that will continue to make people feel proud, beautiful, and empowered.”

Word about her design acumen has been spreading. She was invited and featured as a designer for a show hosted by CDCD Productions at New York Fashion Week in February. “Since then I have been doing fashion shows with other fantastic designers every other weekend since February all via invite in different states. My latest show took place in New Gloucester, Maine. I was invited by Mrs. USA 2021 Misty Coolidge to headline a charity fashion show Flowers that Feed geared to helping feed families through their local food bank.” 

She has a few more shows coming up throughout the year and has already been invited back to showcase her work in the fall Fashion Week in New York. “I feel extremely thankful and blessed that others like our beautiful bride are seeing and supporting it too.”