The Many (Fashionable) Hats of Designer Hope Wade
Meet Hope Wade, Rocklander by way of Kingston, Jamaica. This distinguished entrepreneur wears many hats — wife, mother, fashion designer — and is the force behind Rockland’s annual Fashion Week. If that isn’t enough, she is also the president of the Jamaican Civic and Cultural Association of Rockland (JAMCCAR); sits on the board of The Cooper Union Alumni Association; and is an ordained evangelist.
Read on to learn more about what drives her, what sustains her, and what’s on the horizon.
What led you to a career in fashion?
“After graduating from The Cooper Union in NYC, I was recruited for this job at a company in Brooklyn. I was sent to Chicago to do a trade show, and it was so successful that my boss was instructed to train me further. After a few months, he ushered me into his office and told me that the house he owned, the car he drove, and the vacations he went on were all from the company, and he felt they were grooming me for his department head role, so he fired me!
The church that I was attending at the time had a New Year’s Eve formal event coming up, and I had to make a choice between paying my rent or buying a formal dress. In desperation, I designed an outfit from scratch and wore it. My girlfriends thought I’d bought it. Once they were convinced I made it, they started ordering from me, and that’s literally how I started sewing.”
What inspires you in life, and how does that influence your designs?
“I am inspired by many things. I am a Christian, so I pray a lot. I live by the parable of the master who called his three servants and, based on their several abilities, gave them talents. In the end, two of them doubled their talents and the other one hid his in the ground. The two who doubled their talents were rewarded.
I believe that I have a gift; it is my life’s work to accomplish as much as possible with it. My designs come from a place of freedom of thought and life experiences. I have a daughter who is a mini-me, and I feel I have to leave a legacy for her.”
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
“My biggest accomplishment is probably having iconic rock-and-roll singer Darlene Love wear my red flute dress on the last Christmas performance of the Late Show with David Letterman. The dress has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!“
In addition to creating your couture designs and running your own retail store in Nyack, I noticed you produce Rockland Fashion Week! Tell me more about that.
“RFW was cocooned in my mind for four years before I suddenly decided that the time was now! In six weeks, I got everything together and produced the first show in December 2019, with five designers, 30 models, and over 250 guests.
After that show, with its outstanding success, the Palisades Center got in touch with me and asked me to produce the next show at their location. For the last two years, it has been showcased there to three floors of over 600 customers, plus seated VIP guests. This year it will be on Saturday, November 4.
We recently received a $5,000 grant from Rockland Tourism to advertise outside the county, so that indicates to me that there is confidence in the longevity of the show. My desire is that it will be a part of the bedrock of Rockland County culture and entertainment for years to come.”
Photos by Hope Wade