Annette (Chaviano) Thurmon, ’06, owns Chaviano Couture, a custom bridal design company in Atlanta. But beyond the unique cuts, delicate lace, and flowing fabrics, Thurmon has even bigger plans, combining her passion for design with her passion to impact lives.
Surprisingly, Thurmon never studied design. She graduated from Southern Adventist University with a degree in nursing and works part-time as an ICU nurse at Northside Hospital in Atlanta while maintaining her bridal business. She cites her alma mater as having played a pivotal role in her successes at both occupations.
“I learned a lot of my business skills at Southern,” says Thurmon, “But the main thing was the connections I made with people. Those people are still around and still help me.”
This dream business can best be described as a real calling in Thurmon’s life. For every dress Chaviano Couture sells, twenty percent of proceeds go to mission projects around the world: food and medicine for Bethlehem, clean water for Mozambique, food and education for children in India, an agricultural school for Haiti, or the earthquake relief efforts in Japan.
“From the beginning I wanted to give back,” says Thurmon. “God has blessed me so I wanted to give back to Him.”
Thurmon has always been creative; she was always sketching. In fact, the first wedding dress Thurmon designed was her own. When she couldn’t find the perfect gown for her wedding day, she grabbed pencil and paper and began her dream profession.
Thurmon loved designing her dress and seeing it come to life. In two years, she turned that love into a real business. Today, her company makes about ten dresses a year.
Chaviano Couture has been featured in numerous magazines including Atlanta Weddings, The Atlantan Brides, Jezebel, and Southern Weddings. Additionally, this year Thurmon had the opportunity to debut her first collection during Fashion Week in New York City.
Throughout her business’ growth, from its start to where it is today, Thurmon has made it a point to give back. The schools in India and Haiti that Chaviano Couture donates to are in partnership with her husband, Jared Thurmon, ‘04, and his nonprofit organization, The Beehive.
The Bethlehem donations began when she visited last year and took a personal interest, and assisting earthquake relief efforts in Japan is the most recent project. To keep clientele excited and involved, Chaviano Couture sends customers updates on whatever project their donation helped assist.
Nursing remains a part of Thurmon’s life, but Chaviano Couture is a dream turned reality. For those currently pursuing their dreams, she offers some advice that served her well.
“Keep Christ first in your life,” she says. “And if you have a passion, go for it. If you do something you love and are truly passionate about, others will see it.”