Forest Park resident Latrina Brown wants to bring a brand-new concept to Madison Street. Her boutique, Taj B at 7516 Madison, is an upscale evening-wear fashion house that creates customized gowns and suits, which Brown sews herself. The ribbon cutting for her shop was on Nov. 2.
The former Cook County sheriff has long wanted to go into fashion, but her life took a detour when she pursued a career in law enforcement and had children.
“I was a young mother,” she said. “But it taught me a lot about responsibility and determination.”
When her second son was in college, she resigned from her position as sheriff and went back to college at IIT’s Institute of Design to get a degree in fashion design. After she graduated in 2015, she went to California for a few years, where she gained experience in the fashion industry.
Last year, she moved to Forest Park where her son and grandchild live.
“I’ve participated in LA Fashion Week and London Fashion Week,” said Brown. “My dream is to start my own fashion house, not just a boutique. I know that’s a huge undertaking, but I think it’s important to have big dreams.”
At Taj B, she wants to give people the dress of their fantasies, with a completely customized fit. “People have different bodies and shapes. I want to make my clients something that fits them perfectly.”
The process involves coming in for a consultation and looking at her book of designs. Brown listens carefully to the needs of the customer, including details of the event as well as what a person is comfortable wearing. She aims for a two-week turnaround time, and prices depend on how involved the dress is. Beading, for example, takes more time and work. Brown makes everything herself.
Her love of fashion started early, when her uncle, Al Brown, let her help him with his fashion lines.
“He would sketch these beautiful dresses,” she said. “Then he’d take fabric and toss it, cut it, and sew it. He never used a pattern. It was magic to see how the design went from paper to an actual dress on a model.”
She’s planning events for her shop, including fashions shows and Sip & Sew nights, where guests can learn basic — or advanced — sewing skills while sipping wine. She’d also like to work with high school students during prom season to get the dress of their dreams.
A member of the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce, Brown said all the other business owners are great. “This has been such a good experience so far. Everyone is so personable and kind. The town and businesses are amazing.”
The business is named after her children; the first initials of their names are T, A and J.