Maven to Know: Denisha ‘Dlang’ Ferguson, Founder and Executive Director of Indiana Fashion Week
Denisha “Dlang” Ferguson, 37, is the founder and executive director of Indiana Fashion Week (INDFW). The annual event, presented by the Indiana Fashion Foundation, was designed to serve as a “convention” of fashion professionals and style enthusiasts from across the state of Indiana. She has worked to provide educational, entertainment, and exhibition opportunities for individuals and organizations that make up the fashion ecosystem of the Hoosier state. She even brought Fern Mallis—a.k.a. the brains behind what we now know as New York Fashion Week—to Indiana as an honoree and head judge at the inaugural Indiana Fashion Week emerging designers competition.
We chatted with Dlang about how her mindset and goal setting has helped her reach success, the advice she gives to local creatives, and how the Indiana fashion scene has evolved and grown.
Maven superpower: Dreaming. I dream so big and I take action on those dreams. Even when it seems unreachable. I love to dream even bigger and to create.
How would you describe yourself to a new friend?
Hi, I’m Denisha Ferguson, I also go by my nickname Dlang (du*lang). I’m an active dream builder on a mission to help as many people possible to pursue their goals, so I created the Indiana Fashion Foundation and I offer creative services. You can catch me sketching, fishing, and in nature with my husband and son.
What’s your morning routine?
I pray and then I speak in some sorta accent as I wake up my 6-year-old son. It always makes him smile and laugh. It’s a great reminder to me on what I’m grateful for. I do my best to stay grounded and start off with positivity in the morning. Sometimes that positivity is interrupted with ish or rushing, but when that happens I find ways to recenter my thoughts and focus on the day’s top priorities.
What’s one piece of advice you have for someone who wants to do what you do?
Pray. Research. Take Action. Cry. Take Action (repeat all in any order). I’m building a position that didn’t previously exist, so it’s interesting to navigate. You really have to make up in your mind what you want, go for it, and give yourself grace for your vision to evolve. I get excited consulting others on strategies to build their ideas with the goals to create more creative entrepreneurs, careers and programs in Indiana.
“You really have to make up in your mind what you want, go for it, and give yourself grace for your vision to evolve.“
What do you do to de-stress?
Exercise. I also watch or listen to something funny.
Where do you do most of your work?
In my home office and also at StitchWorks. It’s at Circle City Industrial Complex, you can learn about industrial sewing and also utilize industrial machines to create your designs.
How has the fashion world changed in Indianapolis?
Twenty years ago, there were limited opportunities here. I remember being so excited when Ebony Fashion Fair came to Indy and I wanted so badly to be involved in the industry. That was part of the motivation for me to start producing fashion shows and workshops. Fast forward to today and there are multiple individuals and platforms working to bring more fashion opportunities to Indiana like PATTERN, Passion for Fashion, Trace Fashion, Midwest Fashion Week, Arts Thread Studio, PUP, ASG, Marion Design Co and the Indiana Fashion Foundation. The fashion industry has grown to really show how robust the community is. This is the progression to showing the benefits of investing in the creative economy in Indiana.
When does a work day end for you?
I work throughout the day, so my schedule varies. Taking care of myself is very important. If my work day ends at 2 a.m., I’ll do my best to end my work day earlier the next night.
What makes Indy feel like home to you?
My family makes Indy home. I want to be close to them and also go after my goals.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from reading, going to artist exhibitions and by being around other goal-getters. I love following and meeting those who don’t give up on being their best self and who give back to others. It inspires me on my journey.
Lenie Tsakonas is a regular Indy Maven contributor.