Alumni Spotlight: Chelsie Ravenell
By Alicia Gronneberg, CFCC Foundation Intern
Chelsie Ravenell was born in Charleston, South Carolina and relocated to the Wilmington area in 2003 to play basketball at Cape Fear Community College. Growing up in the “ghetto” (as he describes it) Chelsie realized after high school that he needed to do something with his life and CFCC gave him that opportunity.
“Cape Fear Community College gave me a second chance at life,” says Chelsie, who returned to school at age 24. “In high school I got all C’s, but while I was playing basketball at Cape Fear I had a 4.0.”
Chelsie was enrolled in the business management program but also had a not-so-secret love for fashion, modeling, and designing clothes. While Chelsie had always been interested in fashion and refers to himself as “the stylish dude who won best dressed in high school,” he found his true inspiration for fashion design after his uncle passed away.
“My uncle lived in my grandmother’s house. When he died we were cleaning it out, and I came across a brand new sewing machine—that’s when I taught myself how to sew.”
Chelsie started designing some of his first fashions while he was still enrolled at CFCC and while his friends often teased him for it he never let it hinder his work.
“The guys would be going out, and I would be staying home to sew,’ says Chelsie. “I would go out the next night wearing something I made and people would really like it—it got me excited about what I was doing and continued to motivate me to make more and more.”
A few years later Chelsie created his clothing line, called KennethBeatrice, in honor of his grandmother and uncle—it was because of them that he began to fulfill his dream. “Inspired by Life,” is the moto that Chelsie lives by. He says he was inspired to design by the people who have passed away. “Through my line the people I have lost live on, and I will live on through the people who wear my line. With that motto and mindset you never run out of ideas.”
Chelsie now spends his time between his hometown of Charleston, New York City and Los Angeles where he is a “one many army—designing, making, and marketing” his clothing line. He was recently featured as a semi-finalist during Charleston Fashion Week’s 2010 Emerging Designer Competition.