A North Carolina native, Carmen has had a love for fashion since a young age. She was modeling in trunk shows for Alexander Julian, DKNY and Anne Klein at 16. In high school, she began taking fashion merchandising courses through the DECCA Club and competed in a regional contest for fashion marketing and branding. In 1989 she began studying architecture at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), but later went on to double major in fashion design and illustration. Completing a four-year program at SCAD, she graduated cum laude and was named as top fashion designer of her class.
After graduation, Carmen moved to Paris where she interned for Christope LeMaire, who studied under Christian LaCroix and is now the head designer for Lacoste. She also worked as a sales associate at one of Paco Rabanne’s first ready-to-wear boutiques in Paris. Carmen showcased her first ready-to-wear collection at La Couple Jazz Club in Paris in 1996. After four years in Paris, Carmen moved to the “big apple” to launch her Harlem-based clothing line in the fashion capital.
In the summer of 2001, Carmen launched the “Sistahs of Harlem” clothing line with partner Carmia Marshall, a wardrobe stylist in the film and television industry. The clothing line started in humble street fairs where she sold handbags and deconstructed T-shirts. Marshall and Carmen also co-wrote “T-Shirt Makeovers: 20 Transformations For Fabulous Fashion,” a do-it-yourself book.