UPDATE! Cheryl Bemis received a 2013 Austin Fashion Trailblazer Award at the Austin Fashion Week Award Ceremony on May 11, 2013!
UPDATE PUBLISHED 8/10/2012 - Austin Fusion Magazine. Thank you to Chonie Bradley and writer Audrea Diaz for an amazing experience and photographer Chris Clark for taking some fun pictures.
It was very apparent that Cheryl was going to be in the fashion business in some type way shape or form from a very young age. She enjoyed every aspect of the fashion industry from styling to sewing . What a wonderful journey is has been for this true fashion trailblazer!
Cheryl majored in Fashion Merchandising at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois where she was active in departmental events and found a particular interest in fashion show production. She assisted creating large runway shows and found it was easy and fulfilling! She also worked in a popular hometown fashion boutique where she used her natural love of sales and people skills to build a loyal clientele. But upon graduation, Dallas, TX was her target city to live to expand her fashion career.
Her first job out of college was at Mark Shale in the Galleria working as a salesperson and she excelled in selling high-end clothing. During the next few years she got married, had two children and wanted to get back in the fashion business but also wanted to balance work and family. She was recruited to sell BeautiControl Cosmetics and again, excelled in sales and was a top recruiter for the Dallas area. She thought of an idea to help spread the word about fashion and it was for television, so she called the NBC affiliate in Dallas and pitched a fashion segment for the morning show. The producers liked the idea and for several years Cheryl appeared on the morning show talking about various fashion topics from gift ideas for the holidays or how to dress for an interview. She loved the television business and wanted to do more.
Cheryl joined Men’s Wearhouse in 1994 and again, received top sales awards on a regular basis. Also while employed at Men’s Wearhouse, she continued to appear on the NBC affiliate morning show and added menswear topics to the mix. Her next idea was to continue to do fashion segments but produce and script them, not do them LIVE. The first concept was for short fashion segments for television that would feature various men’s fashion topics. Since she worked for Men’s Wearhouse why not pitch the concept to George Zimmer, Founder of The Men’s Wearhouse? She pitched the concept and George wrote her a check for the production on the spot. George also commissioned her to produce yet another project, this one was to host, produce and write a “how to” video on the topic of Business Casual dressing. The video was distributed nationally and a second soon followed.
While the short men’s segment didn’t pan out, she was persistent and still liked the fashion segment idea but couldn’t get a television station to buy into the concept. It took six years of hearing “no thank you” until she moved to Austin. In 1999 she read that a new 24-station was being launched called News 8 Austin. With demos in hand, she pitched the idea and the station agreed to shoot and air three segments. Finally, a YES and it was the first fashion segment of its kind in Austin.
The first segment aired on December 16, 1999. Cheryl took viewers to the fashionable Austin boutiques, events and introduced up and coming designers to the Austin viewing audience. The format of the fashion segment was educational, fun and gave much-needed exposure to Austin fashion businesses and designers that would otherwise not receive any type of television coverage. The response was always positive; events had higher attendance and traffic from a featured business always increased.
The three original news stories turned into more than 1800 weekly segments without a single repeat. Television was a perfect medium to help spread the word about the Austin Fashion market which many told her did not exist.
The media bug also would include a short stint in radio for Cheryl. The local Oldies station hosted a contest to hire their next co-host. A friend recommended that she send in a tape and she blew it off. When the friend followed up asking why she didn’t send it, Cheryl put together a homemade cassette tape (taped in her closet), sent it in, got the audition and ultimately got the job!
Cheryl was the first on-air personality for News 8 Austin to be recognized for her work by the Austin Chronicle; she was honored with the critic’s pick for “Best Fashion Coverage on Local TV.” She also covered the catwalks at New York’s Fashion Week in a highly praised week-long series for News 8 Austin.
Cheryl’s next fashion chapter was leaning toward the internet. If there could websites about all news how about an all fashion website! She registered her domain name in 2004 and her vision for Fashionably Austin.com launched in July 2009 at the same time the first Austin Fashion Week launched. Again, Cheryl launched another first in the Austin Fashion market, the only all fashion website that featured Austin fashion news about designers, events, and boutiques.
Technology also gave her an opportunity to offer webcasting services to share several Austin events world-wide. She was behind the camera at the first Austin Fashion Awards and aired the UT Fashion Show for three years.
Shortly after Fashionably Austin.com launched, Cheryl took a chance to get credentialed to attend New York Fashion Week. Her persistence paid off when she was accepted to be a part of the credentialed press corps during New York Fashion Week and has attended every year, twice a year since 2009. She was also asked to represent Planet Fashion TV to shoot video during Paris Fashion Week and has also supplied video for the German publication Erdbeerlounge. She has interviewed many fashion industry icons such as Diane von Furstenburg, Clinton Kelly of What Not To Wear, Tim Gunn of Project Runway, Carson Cressley, Chloe Dao and countless celebrities and more.
Cheryl lives in Austin, TX with her husband Rob. She has three grown children and enjoys being an empty nester and is crazy about her Papillion “Cooper”. She is actively involved with the Stiletto Stampede organization which focuses on early detection for breast cancer. She produces the annual Fashionably Pink fund-raising fashion show for the organization and features a pool-side fashion show featuring the Austin fashion design talent.