Fashion Designer Tendai Phillips Tells Us About Her Journey From Zimbabwe to SHEIN

Indianapolis-based fashion designer Tendai Phillips shares insight into her process and gives advice for other aspiring designers.
A photo of a woman holding a paper next to a mannequin

A photo of the Redefinition logo

Meet Tendai Phillips, the founder and creative director of REDEFINITION, and the design genius behind the SHEIN x Redefinition collection. Originally from Zimbabwe, Phillips moved to the U.S. in 2006 and earned her fashion design degree from The Art Institute of Indianapolis in 2015. Phillips currently lives in Indy, so we caught up with her to find out more about her fashion career and her advice for others that hope to follow in her footsteps.

How would you describe your design esthetic?
A model in a brown leather skirt and top with long sleeves and flowers
A SHEIN X Redefinition design

A combination of pop culture, streetwear, and current fashion trends.

Your bio says that you moved to the U.S. from Zimbabwe in 2006. What prompted the move?

My dad lived out here in Indy and wanted me and my sisters to join him, and also further our education.

A SHEIN X Redefinition model wearing blue jeans and a yellow high neck shirt with flowy long sleeves
A SHEIN X Redefinition design
How were you chosen to design for SHEIN?

My best friend recommended I apply for the SHEIN X designer incubator program. I applied and submitted my portfolio and got accepted in the program.

How does the process work to have your designs featured on the SHEIN website?
A SHEIN X Redefinition model in a pink dress with ruffles and black gloves
A SHEIN X Redefinition design

Submitting an application via the SHEIN website will be the first step, once accepted you have the SHEIN X coordinators work with you. SHEIN handles the whole manufacturing and marketing portions. My job was to design and create the technical designs.

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far in your design career?

To never give up on myself. It is not an easy journey but it is also a very fulfilling experience. There are still many lessons to learn and I am ready because giving up is not an option.

What advice would you give other young designers who are looking to make their mark in fashion?
A SHEIN X Redefinition model in blue pants with ruffles and a black halter top
A SHEIN X Redefinition design

Stay true to your dream, even when no one understands your passion. You are the one who understands how much this dream means to you, so keep pushing like your whole life depends on it, because it does.

And remember, your talent and dream will take you far because you’re going to work on them with passion versus when you are working a regular job, so DO NOT GIVE UP chasing that dream and maximizing your talent.

Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven and an avid fashion shopper, both in-store and online.

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