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Chloe Dao targets Houston designers in local version of Project Runway
When Chloe Dao was crowned queen of Project Runway, the judges were clear about why they chose her over Daniel Vosovic. Not only did she wow them with her collection, but Heidi, Michael and Nina were confident in her business savvy, an equally important skill no matter what industry you’re in.
Fast-forward six years later and Dao has taken her “Simply. Chloe Dao.” collection to QVC, debuted her wholesale line "DAO Chloe DAO”, expanded her Rice Village boutique and continues to show fall and spring collections in Houston.
She’s also embracing local talent, which Dao says is stronger now than ever before. An open designer call in January at Lot 8 yielded 12 new faces, including five apparel and seven accessories designers who will be unveiled Saturday night at Lot 8 at a party open to the public from 7-9 p.m.
More importantly, the designer’s work will be carried at Lot 8 for purchase alongside Dao’s own designs.
“I was pleasantly surprised. Houston has a good pool of talent,” Dao said. “I wanted to do this because design is not just about fabric choice, construction and great fit. You have to know how to sell and make a living too.”
She admits it was hard to be in the judge’s seat and didn’t accept some designers because they only had sketches or just weren’t ready. Of the ones she did choose, two already work with Chinese factories.
One of the goals she wants to reach with her own talent search is to teach the basics like pricing, merchandising and other business basics. And, Dao says, she is more than happy to have “competing” labels next to her own.
“I’m very secure in my own design and not everybody can afford or like me. I always want to support local designers, so I’m really getting back to the core of what I enjoy,” Dao says.
The timing is also right for Dao to return to passions cooled by other projects. After starting up with QVC in 2007, the deal between Dao and the home shopping source has ended. Initially Dao was disappointed, but now sees the end of the gig differently.
“I was bummed, but now I’m really relieved. The last three years it’s been QVC, QVC, QVC. I make a 30 piece collection every month, so now I’m quite happy. I want to go back to my store,” she says.
Sometimes, it really is good to go home again.