Designer Camilyn Beth Leavitt heard the call to fashion at a young age. Her first project: a dress for prom in junior high. After completing a degree in fashion design and a stint working with a couture designer in Stockholm, Leavitt (known as Cami to friends) jumped in headfirst with her own eponymous line of clothing tailored to the modern woman. SRQ sat down with the rosy-cheeked, strawberry blonde-bobbed fashionista in her whitewashed Palm Avenue showroom to talk shop.

SRQ: How did you get your start in the fashion world? Leavitt: Ever since I was young, I was interested in art and creativity—my mom is very creative, she’s a florist and I was always with her doing projects. I ended up going to the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale for fashion design and I loved school, especially because I was in the Miami area, which has a great fashion scene. Then I lived in Stockholm—I worked for couture designer Pär Engsheden. His designs are truly couture, one-of-a-kind pieces. He has very high-profile customers; most are royalty. When I moved back here, I started as a sales person at Shore and worked my way up to creative director/assistant buyer. I decided that, while it was a great job and I love the fashion industry, I wanted to design. Around the same time, my husband and I were invited to 16 weddings in one year. I started making my dresses and some for my friends, a lot of whom were bloggers at the time and started promoting the brand on their platforms. Before I knew it, I got my first wholesaler, a little boutique in New Orleans, through Twitter.

So you got started mostly through social media and word of mouth? We got in at the right time, when Etsy was just starting and Pinterest was taking off. Bloggers were a little more authentic. So since I started the line in 2012, we’ve grown a lot, especially in the studio. I go to New York to show our line at the trade shows. Hopefully we can grow the wholesale side as well. Right now we’re in about 40 to 50 boutiques depending on the season, smaller stores in the Southeast primarily.

What is the inspiration behind the collections? When I started, I wanted dresses that I could wear again, not something so typically “bridesmaid.” I’ve always gotten a lot of inspiration from vintage and classic silhouettes—I love ‘60s-era dresses. I take that and update it for the modern woman. I mix around with old and new; that’s always my thought process. We produce everything in New York, which is really important to me. I love being able to keep everything in the US. I love Sarasota—I get a lot of inspiration from the colors, but I also draw things from New York as well. I always say my line is inspired by Florida colors and styled in a New York way. The aesthetic isn’t too trendy—I keep it classic.

What can we expect for Spring 2017? Our Spring collection is still definitely inspired by the ‘60s, and we mixed some pastels with bolder colors. There’s a lot of white, keeping things light and airy. I’m seeing a move toward cooler tones, so there is a great periwinkle color that we’re bringing in. My customer is a modern woman and she’s always changing and has a lot of needs, but on the other hand it’s simple—they are always going to want something classic that they can wear over and over again. I’m very much an open book—I love people to see the process. It’s a really long process, at least six months to get a dress produced between making the samples—which I do here in the studio—and then we have a local seamstress that does a lot of the sewing before the pattern goes to New York.

What does the future hold for the brand? I’m taking baby steps. We need to expand the women’s collection—I’d love to do an accessories collection and I think outerwear would be really cute. I want to do a children’s collection—I think I will need to be a mom first! I’m not in that world yet. But when the time comes, that would be great, especially since I feel like my customers are on this journey with me.