Scott-Rawlins was given an assignment in a sophomore environmental science class at Brockton High School and decided to showcase the work through a hand-painted T-shirt.
While cruising through the halls, a teacher stopped the young designer and requested 30 shirts of her own for a bachelorette party.
“The mother of the bride loved the shirts so much she asked me to make 30 more for all the waitresses to wear for the reception party,” Scott-Rawlins said. “That was the start of my business. It wasn’t something that was planned, but it’s something that I love doing.”
After fulfilling the shirt request, Scott-Rawlins decided to kick her fashion design career into high gear and take it more seriously. She went on to Lasell University, earning a bachelor’s in fashion design and productions in 2016.
During Scott-Rawlins’s senior year of college, at 22-years-old, she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes and immune system.
Doctors were surprised that a healthy young woman who had no previous medical issues developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Scott-Rawlins said.
“The journey of being sick taught me how strong and powerful I am. Senior year I was working on my final project getting chemotherapy feeling awful but ended up with the best project of my class,” Scott-Rawlins said.
Due to the diagnosis and more free time, Scott-Rawlins decided to run her business BySharisse full-time from the comfort of her home.
“I took some time to focus on my health, and I wasn’t working, so why not put efforts into my business? While I was sick, I ran my business full time. Looking back at it now, it seems like something crazy to do, but I was home all the time. So I thought, why not?” Scott-Rawlins said.
The new diagnosis did not stop Scott-Rawlins in any way.
While in the hospital receiving chemotherapy, Scott-Rawlins sketched designs, created patterns and did other technical things.
Once she got home, she began the more hands-on work of cutting and sewing garments together.
“I told myself I can’t just sit down and feel sorry for myself. I must get up. I have work to do. Ever since I discovered my passion for creating fashion, it gets me up in the morning. During the times I was sick, it kept me going even more. It pushed me to work harder. I found a deep motivation to get up every day,” Scott-Rawlins said.
This December will mark Scott-Rawlins’s fifth year of being cancer-free.
“People tend to look at people who are sick or who have a disability as if they aren’t capable of working and making their dreams come true. But, when you wake up every morning, it’s up to you to take your own life in your own hands and make the best of each day you’re given,” Scott-Rawlins said.
Becoming stagnant because of a life circumstance was never Scott-Rawlins plan. Instead, she continued to design clothes, upload creative videos on Instagram, gain new clients and broaden her following on social media.
Additionally, Scott-Rawlins completed her MBA at Howard University in business management in 2020.
People started noticing the up-and-coming designer, and Boston Caribbean Fashion Week invited her to design a one-of-a-kind collection.
“The fashion show highlights different designers of Caribbean descent and showcases their work and culture. I feel a sense of pride. The mission of my brand since 2010 is to create confidence, individuality, and equality through what I do. I use my platform to encourage people who look like me, women of color especially,” Scott-Rawlins said.
“It’s a proud moment to work in a show that uplifts and celebrates people of color. I felt super honored to be there.”
Scott-Rawlins’ collection The Colorshow launched Oct. 15, and 11 models strutted down the runway with brightly colored clothes in different patterns.
“My clothes are for people who want to stand out. You have to have the confidence to wear them,” Scott-Rawlins said.
The inspiration behind the collection was to create a lively garment to uplift people. The designer took some dark experiences and brought light and hope into them.
“It shows people there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. So even though we’re all going through tough times, COVID and all the chaos going on in the world, I wanted to show pieces with bold color and vibrancy,” Scott-Rawlins said.
Enterprise staff reporter Alisha Saint-Ciel can be reached by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @alishaspeakss. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.