My journey into the fitness industry began long before I realized it was going to lead to beginning Vandella Costumes. During my youth and early adu
lthood, my parents were extremely supportive with my participation in sports and the Arts. With this support
I excelled in many activities including swimming, track, soccer, and in gymnastics class 2-A. Although I did well my intense passion for Art led to earning a Blue Key Award and I was accepted into Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
Though I was accepted into SCAD my eye for fashion began years before. Unknowingly, my mother began my career in design with the most basic of tools; a needle and thread, at the age of seven I learned to sew my own Barbie doll clothes as I quickly became
tired of the store bought fashions. This simple act led the way to academic achievements including an award in High School for an entire dress made of one inch strips of ribbon which I wore all day. I was an Honors art student for all of High School
and loved to paint, draw, sculpt & of course, sew…. Other successful fashion endeavors included designing my own and several others’ wedding gowns, my bridesmaid dresses, lingerie and exotic dancewear and some corsets for a WWF wrestling pro Molly Holly.
My husband Arnie and I embroidered and rhinestoned the rockabilly jackets and hats for his band “The Black Bottom Biscuits”. Arnie, the talented love of my life, helps create the wonderful designs you ladies wear and this past year wrote a song about
me. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Though I specialized in exotic dancewear during my earlier career, 1997 brought about an entirely new genre to my work. Thanks to some help from NPC judge Terri Moore, I ventured away from the exotic dancewear to produce my first competition suit for Kristy Robbins IFBB figure pro and I have not slowed down. I would never have guessed that it would pave the road to creating and producing posing suits for professional and amateur Bodybuilding, Physique, Fitness, Pageant, Figure and Bikini athletes. I must say, doing the swim suits and costumes is much more rewarding to me than working the exotic club circuit as I feel like I am right up there on stage with you when you compete and know how hard you worked to get there…
Over the years my client list has grown from amateur athletes to some of the top ranking professional athletes in the Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure and Bikini industry. Some of my clients include/included: WNBF Figure Pro Mary Bell, WNBF Fitbody pro Tina Peratino, IFBB physique pro Tiani Norman, IFBB figure pro Elizabeth White, IFBB Fitness Pro Shannon Meteraud, IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Bonny Priest, IFBB figure pro Sarah Venturini, WNBF pro Kimberly Streich, IFBB bodybuilding pro Monique Jones,IFBB pro Karen Choat, Tracy Beckham IFBB pro bodybuilder, IFBB figure pro Simone Mack, IFBB bodybuilding pro Beni Lopez, IFBB bodybuilding pro CJ Reike, IFBB pro Bernita Stuckey, IFBB pro Debra Dunn, IFBB fitness pro Stacy Wig,IFBB figure pro Lisa Morton, WNBF pro Courtney Barbero, Kerri Bolen Natural pro, IFBB bodybuilding pro Colette Guimond, IFBB fitness pro Kim Klein, IFBb pro Tonya Burkhardt,IFBB pro Safiya Johnson, IFBB pro Kira Neuman, April Jacobs IFBB fitness pro, Kristy Robbins IFBB figure pro,WNBF pro Amy Llinas, Marie-Ann Newman IFBB figure pro, Kristin Nunn IFBB figure pro, Kristi Dietrich WNBF bodybuilding pro, Melissa Frederick IFBB fitness pro, IFBB pro Julia Aragon, IFBB figure pro Tessa Wood Dilley, IFBB figure pro Melissa Griffin-Montanaro, WNBF pro Terra Gallemore, IFBB figure pro Michelle Adams, WNBF pro Maureen Bergeron, IFBB pro Stacey Pillari ,Lisa White competitor and Fitness writer and several others…I have seen amateur competitors become National and professional level athletes and I feel privileged to see them win pro cards wearing a Vandella Costumes’ posing suit.
2006 was a good pageant year, I did outfits/swimsuits for 2006 Mrs. South Carolina Celeste Springer and Amanda Pennekamp-Bluestein Miss SC USA 2006 who became first-runner up to the 2006 Miss USA!
What do we like to do? Arnie, my husband, is a musician and songwriter. His band “The Black Bottom Biscuits” has been together for almost 10 yrs now, played all over the South are currently working on their 4th CD. I like to garden, design jewelry and rescue dogs. German Shepherds are especially dear to my heart… The development of Vandella Costumes in 1997 caused me to realize something immediately. While I was not a competitor I understood what it was like for these athletes to endure the stringent diet and to train like champions. I also understood that the creation of a beautiful posing suit could make a competitor feel even better about themselves on stage. An ill-fitting suit would cause an athlete to lose focus on the competition at hand and take away from the confidence and poise needed to do their best. I do the very best to provide every athlete with a suit they are proud to wear.
My goal, regardless if the client is an amateur or professional, is that each athlete is confident in their custom made, beautiful suit.
Designer/President Vandella Costumes