Cunningham Academy Senior a Budding Fashion Designer
It’s not often that a high school student finds success designing and marketing his own fashions, but that’s exactly what’s happened to Cunningham Academy student Fabricio Lobo. He started selling his items through a local store in Vineland and recently developed his first website and broke through to the European market. Fabricio says the past 3-4 years have been a learning experience.
“When I started I knew that making t-shirts and hats weren’t going to cut it,” he says. “I felt that I was going to have to really get in-depth with clothing. I asked my grandmom for help and she took me step-by-step. I bought my own sewing machine for $100 at Walmart and I went home from there. The first pieces didn’t turn out so good but every time I would do it the piece would come out better.”
Fabricio has attended Cunningham since 2015 and is scheduled to graduate in June. As soon as he leaves school each day he heads home to his sewing machine.
“I have eight hours just to myself. I love creating, not just clothes but I know I have a passion for just creating.”
Cunningham is a transitional program and normally after several months up to a year students return to their home school. But Fabricio elected to remain at Cunningham, feeling he does better in a smaller environment. He’s been successful so the school district allows him to stay.
“He has been designing clothes since we met him,” said the school’s program manager Hamidullah Lundy. “He would do odd jobs to buy materials. He’s come a long way to overcome problems, really struggled early but has found his niche through practice and training.”
“We will sit down and go over the concept,” he says. “If it’s out of town I’ll Face Chat them and show them what I have and show them colors, different themes and they’ll tell me where they want it placed, on the front or on the bottom or the back of the jeans or they want something on part of a jacket. Each item is unique. I don’t remake the same piece because that gets boring after a while.”
In his freshman year of high school, Fabricio bought beat up sneakers, cleaned them up, repainted and sold them. But he later decided the money is in clothes. That has been his main focus since.
“He has these hoodies that we love,” Lundy says. “The challenge is how to mass produce. He’s figuring things out as he goes. This is really a passion for him. We’re just mentoring him through and supporting him.”
That support was evident at a recent sneaker event in Philadelphia called Sole Exchange. The entire Cunningham staff showed up.
“I am focused on what I’m doing now,” he says. “I don’t know if I’m going to be a major success. I just know whatever I’m doing now I have to keep doing because it’s working. I don’t really bang my head on needing to get to a certain place. I just try to take it one by one.”
Recently, Fabricio made his first international sale to a buyer in Denmark, a country he had never even heard of about 4,000 miles from Vineland. They bought the piece off the app, paid through Pay Pal and Fabricio shipped it out. Fabricio’s ultimate goal is to make a full-time living at this but he is most motivated by the creative process.
“I was always into clothes, vintage clothing, sneakers. I want others to collect my clothes the way I did. I don’t want to charge people an arm and a leg. I am just trying to get my name out there.”