Starting tonight at 6:45 p.m. CT, Americans are invited to watch episodes of ‘So You Wanna Be a Designer’ and vote* for their favorites at At stake for the designers, beyond ultimate bragging rights, are a $20,000 cash prize and an innovative Kenmore Elite® laundry pair that boasts custom clothing care functionality. Under the watchful eye and mentoring of host Debbie Yagel, a seasoned Chicago designer and entrepreneur, the contestants will learn from leading industry insiders how to break into the fashion business and become a successful designer.

Challenges will be presented to the contestants every Tuesday at 9 a.m. CT at the Kenmore Live Studio.  Completed designs will be showcased live during the Thursday night episodes at 7 p.m. CT beginning today through May 12. During the time they have to fashion their looks, designers are required to spend two hours at the Studio interacting with Yagel and one another and the Kenmore Live Studio will be live streaming this activity throughout the series. Challenges will include field trips, meetings and appearances to keep contestants on the go and inspired throughout the process.

“Having created my brand, Ootra, here in Chicago, I know how high the triumphs and how low the hardships in fashion can be – especially in the beginning,” said Debbie Yagel. “I am proud to work with such an exciting and unique program like ‘So You Wanna Be a Designer.’ Hosting this program enables me to share my business insights in a competition that truly celebrates the business of fashion with amazing designers as they come into their own before our eyes.”

Yagel, who serves as the face of Kenmore’s ‘So You Wanna Be a Designer’ series, will tap various heavy-hitting industry icons including her co-host Isaac King, a wardrobe stylist for FORD Models, Inc. and founder of Black Code to help guide the contestants in their journey.  Following are the cast members vying for top distinction in the premier season:

  • Tonya Pierce: A south Florida native, Tonya’s mother taught her to sew at an early age, which opened the door to endless design possibilities, including creating her own prom dress. After a brief stint studying marine biology, she moved to Chicago to study fashion design at the International Academy of Technology and Design. Tonya’s fashion obsession revolves around giving people pieces they love to wear and feel confident in.

  • Michael Pazmino : Born in Chicago and raised in Quito, Ecuador, Michael is a primarily self-taught designer.  While attending UIC for mechanical engineering and moonlighting as a model, he developed strong fashion ideas.  He bought fashion textbooks to teach himself the skills needed to enter the industry and today specializes in women’s finer apparel, but can and will design and construct anything under his label PAZMINO.

  • Jessica Davis: Bi-coastal in her upbringing, Jessica found herself in Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Art. She describes her style as a realization of inner beauty that includes classic silhouettes merged with structured feminine trends. Her current collection, Everything Lovely, is designed to make women feel lovely inside and out.

  • LaTonya Williams: LaTonya grew up in a family of designers who urged her to find a path outside the family business. With a degree in mathematics, she worked in the IT field for more than 10 years.  Determined and talented, she created her own line dubbed pitch black gear and ultimately enrolled at the International Academy of Design Technology where she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

  • Anna Hovet: Born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., Anna moved to Chicago in 2003 to attend the School of the Art Institute. In college, she was a stylist and fashion show coordinator at Akira and later was hired by Kids Headquarters to design layettes for Ecko, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and Target. Today, she offers Anna Hovet , a young contemporary collection online and at multiple retailers throughout the Midwest.

  • Stephen Curd: Stephen moved to Chicago after graduating from Lindenwood University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design. He worked at a small boutique to prove his design credibility and ultimately created his own fashion production company. With a focus on men’s clothing, he has been known to design for the female who can pull off a masculine look. Stephen dreams of taking over the fashion world one great tailored-fit at a time.


The Kenmore Live Studio in Chicago will serve as command central for the designers with access to the latest Kenmore sewing and laundry appliances, free-range creative space and a direct line to Yagel, their mentor throughout the process. Local Chicagoans, fashion fiends and reality buffs alike are welcome to attend the live broadcasts weekly at 678 N. Wells Street where they can watch as designers add final touches, receive comments and critiques, and ultimately see who will carry on to the next week’s challenge.  For those who cannot attend but want to keep up with the series,

*Viewers can vote up to five times per night from 7 – 7:50 p.m. CT each Thursday.