Elizabeth Kickley .
In honor of Black History month, we will be honoring black fashion industry professionals that paved the way for so many.
Born a slave in 1818 Virginia, Elizabeth purchased her freedom in 1860 and moved to Washington, DC. There she met Mary Todd Lincoln and hired her as a dressmaker. After years of working together and helping each other through family death and financial difficulties , that friendship came to an abrupt end.
In 1868, Elizabeth wrote a tell-all book. YES! Not only was she one of the first black dressmakers, BUT she was also one of the first to write a tell-all book.
Sadly, after being cut off by Mary, Elizabeth lost all her clients and money. She soon became poor and resulted into taking a position as a professor at Ohio's Wilberforce University in the Department of Sewing and Domestic Science Arts in 1892.
Elizabeth passed away in 1907.
As of right now, many of her designs are no longer around , but some of them exists in the Smithsonians, Chicago History Museum, Howard University and more.