Inspirational Women: Bernie Dexter

As a self-employed business woman, I decided to surround myself with positive, motivational and inspiring people. So I started a monthly networking group called 'Wonderful Women: Minding Our Own Business'. To encourage and motivate us I interview inspirational and creative business women, and so far I have picked the brains of Angelique Houtkamp, Michelle Ward, Maureen Jann, Hayley Southwood and Rebecca McWattie.

I was super excited to interview Bernie Dexter, who is in my opinion, the face of Rockabilly fashion. Bernie's face is instantly recognisable to anyone who has dabbled in any vintage or Rockabilly scene. Not only is she a pin-up model but she also has her own fashion brand (which she of course does her own modelling for!).


ReeRee Rockette: When did you start the clothing line, and how did it come about?

Bernie Dexter: I started my line about 2 years ago. After modeling for so many other vintage inspired companies and seeing their great successes I decided to share my own point of view. My goal was to breathe new life into the reproduction world - so much was being regurgitated. I have spent a lot of time on fit & searching for unique prints...Oh & most important! It is 100% made in the U.S.A.! 

ReeRee Rockette: Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Bernie Dexter: Yes I, have for as long as I could remember. I dreamed of being a successful designer from as early as 14 years old. I was never able to afford design school, but through being a model I was exposed to the business and I absorbed all the info like a sponge! I am a firm believer in the school of life, I never let anything, even having no money, get in the way of my dreams... I have never waited for people to make my dreams happen for me.  I have always been motivated and creative... even if it meant looking how things I bought were made - the details, why does this fit better then that? I learned if you want to do anything, you can... you just have to do it!
ReeRee Rockette: What has been most challenging about running your own business?

Bernie Dexter: Fabric sourcing. As soon as I find one I like it seems to go out of print! But I have a lot of fun searching! I do everything myself apart from the actual sewing - so it is a lot of work!

ReeRee Rockette: Do you have any advice for women wanting to start their own brand or business?

Bernie Dexter: Yes, try to make clothing you want to wear! That is what I do. I have been asked by another designer once "what is cool?" but I honestly believe you can not buy true 'cool' or even describe it. I think if you can express yourself through the clothing you design and it is actually coming from somewhere in your soul, mind or heart... it will be right. The worst thing is when people try to regurgitate what is already out there.  I see a lot of this on the retro scene and it is just so boring... I even dared to use cotton!!

ReeRee Rockette: Have you made any mistakes along the way?

Bernie Dexter: Yes! I did not know much about the business and I never went to design school... it has all been trial & error!

ReeRee Rockette: Where would you like your business to go? 

Bernie Dexter: I would love to be celebrated for years to come and be known for celebrating the female form. To be known for making clothing that flatters all shapes & sizes.

ReeRee Rockette: What have been your most proud moments?

Bernie Dexter: Watching my Siren capri pants fly of the shelves! They have been my bread & butter... they have been such a success. I actually saw two girls wearing them in Spain and I thought 'Oh my God their capris are so cute', I was actually a bit jealous (in a good way!). The next thing I know they 
came up to me and said 'We have your capri pants on!". I was so proud! They look good on everyone! 
This was the second time something like that had happened. Another time I saw a photo of a lady wearing a leopard-print top and pencil skirt and thought 'Wow, she looks amazing,' then I read the caption and discovered she was wearing my clothes! If I am going 'Wow' without knowing I know I did a good job!

ReeRee Rockette: How do you schedule an average day? Do you have routines, or is every day different?

Bernie Dexter: A bit of both actually. I'd say it is routinely busy!
ReeRee Rockette: Who inspires you?

Bernie Dexter: I am most inspired by rockabilly music. It has been no secret that I have been inspired by 1950s Frederick's of Hollywood catalogues. So many designers are but never talk about it. 1950s Frederick's of Hollywood are the holy grail for me really. The art work in them are amazing. I also draw inspiration from all 1940s & 1950s fashions.

ReeRee Rockette: When things get difficult how do you stay motivated?

Bernie Dexter: I put on some good rockabilly music and everything gets better!


Although a few of Bernie's pieces are stocked in the UK, we definitely need to get a fully stocked UK stockist so that I can buy that suit....and the leopard print dress....oh and her lingerie.....and shoes.....