For Priscilla Barroso, competing this season on NBC's Fashion Star has been a surreal experience.
The Arlington Lamar High School grad never dreamed she'd be doing such a thing.
But life is full of surprises, isn't it? "I never grew up wanting to be a fashion designer either," she admits. "Even now, when I say it, it doesn't feel real."
Barroso's early ambition was to make doorknobs as an industrial designer. Seriously!
"I just wanted to transform those everyday tools into something special and memorable," she says.
But the doorknob's loss was fashion's gain. She's a designer who loves color and loves creating women's clothing that stands out from the norm.
So far, Barroso has survived three weeks of competition on Fashion Star, which airs at 7 p.m. Friday on NBC.
During the first week, the dress she designed netted an $80,000 bid from the store buyer/judge representing Macy's. In the weeks since the product became available for purchase online, more than 70 percent of the dresses have been sold.
Barroso, whose Crowned Bird clothing line is produced in Dallas, is one of two Fashion Star competitors from North Texas. The other is Dallas native Amber Perley, whose clothing line is called Southern Pearl Couture.
We chatted with Barroso about her design work and her experiences on Fashion Star.
What compelled you to go on this crazy show?
"It all happened so fast. I was literally launching my collection in Los Angeles and the director of Focus approached me with a flier and said I should try out for the show. I assume someone was there scouting designers.
"I sat on my friend's rooftop that night, hashed out the two-hour application, edited a hilarious video and pressed 'send.' Two weeks later, I got the call to come in for an audition at Macy's in Dallas. Two months later, I was on my way to Los Angeles to meet the producers.
"In retrospect, the process was fairly easy, aside from the nerves. But the reality of being a designer on the show is serious work. I have a newfound respect for fashion reality TV shows."
How would you describe your design style and philosophy?
"My clothes stand out because the girls who are drawn to the label instinctively know how to dress themselves. They see possibilities in everything and they understand the nature of the girl-to-woman genre. I made the line for ladies who enjoy spending Sunday afternoons at flea markets just to find that one special ornament that not anyone can have but that everyone can enjoy.
"Crowned Bird, to me, means 'Be the queen of your own universe.' The line comes from a place of wonder, playfulness, creativity and simplicity. It is a very personal collection inspired by all my favorite things: French retro, brilliant color, charming prints and Grandma's closet.
"This is my first real passion project. I started it less than a year ago with an $8,700 Kickstarter. Not bad so far."
How nerve-wracking is it when you're on the Fashion Star stage, waiting to find out what the three buyers from Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue and Express will bid on and how high they'll go?
"Nerve-wracking is an understatement. It's more like an out-of-body experience. Literally, my eyes and brain were outside of my head, my body on autopilot. But I loved it. Can't wait to do it again."
What do you hope being on this show does for you and your company? Has it already made an impact?
"The show has definitely made a positive impact. I am so grateful to have this kind of exposure at such an early stage in my career. Fashion Star can only do great things, and there is so much more to come.
"My ultimate goal is for Crowned Bird to become an international brand. I want ladies in Japan, Australia, London, Istanbul and Paris to be wearing the Bird. I can imagine one day multiple girls walking into the same party wearing Crowned Bird and all of them sporting it in their own way.
"That is a dream for the designer in me. Fashion Star is airing in 150 countries this year and, with the help of social media, I can already see it happening. Going international -- 2013 is my year for making it happen. Hope it inspires others to do the same."