Ms. Black Kentucky has ventured into the world of fashion with Shein

Ciara Johnson, a wife and mother of two, competed in and won her first pageant in October, and she is currently selling some of the items she had on display on Shein.

Ms. Black Kentucky is on a mission to inspire others, showcasing her talents on the pageant stage and in the fashion industry while doing so.

Louisville native Ciara Johnson had her unique outfits displayed at the Ms. Black Kentucky pageant — the first she’s ever competed in — last October. These days, consumers can purchase them on Shein, an online retailer with over 80 million active shoppers nationwide.

For Johnson, who started working in retail at age 17 — 16 years ago — and phased into content creation, modeling and design after graduating from college in 2013, it’s all a dream come true.

Ms. Black Kentucky Ciara Johnson
Ciara Johnson won her first pageant last October, becoming Ms. Black Kentucky, and she now has pieces displayed during the event available for purchase on Shein. (Photo: Randall Routt via Ciara Johnson)

“As a young girl, my grandmother poured into me creatively; we would visit her house and do all kinds of arts and crafts,” Johnson told theGrio. “Ultimately, she is the one who taught me how to sew and gave me my first sewing machine.”

The wife and mother of two said her “love for fashion grew” from her grandmother’s gift, and “fashion became a means of self and creative expression for me,” as she grew older and into her own personal style.

Having her pieces available for purchase on the Shein website is made possible by Shein-X, a program that aims to make the fashion industry accessible for up-and-coming creatives. 

The Ms. Black Kentucky title holder said her sister, a fellow Shein designer, referred her to the program. Johnson handled the designs, and Shein took care of everything from marketing and advertising to production. 

“Everything we create is showcased and sold on the Shein website, where we have access to millions of customers worldwide,” Johnson shared. “I have launched two collections with Shein and hope to continue creating more with them in the future, [possibly a spring or summer line].”

Johnson’s giant leap into the fashion industry and entry into Kentucky’s Black pageant world — where her platform is advocating for women’s empowerment and instilling confidence in young girls everywhere, including her daughters — is more than just an example of her perseverance and faith.


“The MBKY platform has given me the opportunity to reach and connect with more people in meaningful and impactful ways,” Johnson told theGrio. “I believe that it is my responsibility as a title holder to help lift up the next generation of creatives, both young and old.” 

Johnson said several people contacted her about competing in the Ms. Black Kentucky pageant, but she was a bit apprehensive, seeing as it was her debut. Fast forward, and the growth she experienced will follow her for the rest of her life.

“I have always been a bit quiet and naturally shy, but last year was a big year for me, in terms of trying out new things, stepping out of my comfort zone and overcoming my fears, so I went for it,” she said. “It was an amazing experience, and I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and learn so much about myself. I really got a chance to think about my future and consider the legacy that I want to leave behind.”

Johnson intends to use her new title and love for fashion to positively change her community and host events geared toward mentorship, including dress-for-success and career readiness workshops, community fashion shows and confidence seminars. She’s currently collaborating with groups to hold prom dress giveaways, where she’ll take on the role of a fairy godmother and assist girls in finding gowns and accessories — all leading up to her Ms. Black USA debut in Washington, D.C., in August.

In the meantime, Johnson is working eagerly on an independent athleisure brand of inspirational apparel that will launch this year.

“All in all,” she told theGrio, “just continuing to serve looks AND my community.”

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