ESSENCE.com: What inspired you to be on Project Runway?
DOM STREATER: I have always loved watching Project Runway. I have been a fan of the show since I was 12-years-old. So for me, the idea of being on it was a dream! I didn’t want to apply at first because I am actually a very private person, but my best friend urged me to apply for the longest time so I just went ahead and gave in.
ESSENCE.com: What does it mean to you to be the first African American designer to win Project Runway?
STREATER: It is an incredible honor for me to be the first. I love that I am able to set that example for other young designers of color who maybe believe that they cannot make it in fashion.
ESSENCE.com: How did it feel to have fashion “it” girl Kerry Washington give you the amazing feedback she did on your final collection?
STREATER: It was so incredible to be able to speak with Kerry and hear her opinion of my work! She is so beautiful and talented, so I respected her opinion very much! It was a really amazing feeling being able to have a dialogue with her on the runway.
ESSENCE.com: Aside from $500,000 and the car what’s your biggest take away from being on the show?
STREATER: My biggest take away was knowing the importance of being yourself and trusting your instincts as a creative person. That is such an important lesson to learn as a designer.
ESSENCE.com: How do you plan on keeping up the momentum after being on such a huge reality show?
STREATER: I decided that when I came home, win or lose, I would get to work on my next step. Which is exactly what I did! I am currently working on my Fall Winter 2014 collection to show in February. My main focus is building my brand and getting the Dom Streater name out there. This girl has no intention of fading into the background!
ESSENCE.com: Where do you see yourself in the future?
STREATER: I have plans to grow my label and hopefully turn it into a well-known name in fashion. I want to grow the brand into a global business and be able to have women all over the world wearing my designs. So soon hopefully, after some growth, I will have a store to sell my collections in!
ESSENCE.com: How does your past experiences and where you’re from effect your design point of view?
STREATER: I was born and raised in West Philadelphia (cue fresh prince theme song) and that factors in greatly to how I design. When you live in a busy city that is sometimes very tough and rough, you sometimes have to sacrifice style for comfort. As a designer I make it my duty to try and bridge that gap and design fashion forward and exuberant clothing that actual real women can wear.
ESSENCE.com: In what ways specifically did you grow as a designer from episode one to the finale?
STREATER: I learned a huge amount about myself in those six weeks than I did in the three years that I have been out of college. I learned a lot about how I design, what I like and my process. Being on Project Runway has taught me invaluable things that some