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Eight Power Moves Neophyte Senia Soto Made for a Successful First Fashion Show



Reposted from Orlando Fashion Magazine with permission.

Does the name Jarix (pronounced “Jah-ree”) Fashions sound familiar? If Sunday’s fun- and seat-filled ninety-minute debut fashion show at Harry P. Leu Gardens is any indication, that name will become familiar soon enough. Jarix Fashions designer Senia Jarix Soto just recently turned eighteen, and the fashion show was her parent’s birthday gift. While Soto is the new kid on the block, the formal-attire-only event featured all the staples of a well-seasoned designer’s showcase, her twenty-three design pieces included. Here’s how she, with her family’s help, had a successful inaugural show.



Power Move 1: She had an established event team.

Soto and her parents placed their show under veteran hostess, author, and media personality Angie Bee’s tour umbrella, and therefore had the marketing they needed to fill those seats. Angie Bee broadcasts Christian Hip Hop artists, connecting the positive message with youth across Florida to make a difference in the community, and frequently brings on respected speakers and entrepreneurs during her tours. Furthermore, Bee’s husband Bartee is a sultry Motown cover singer, and is always a big hit with audiences. Sunday’s show was no exception.



Power Move 2: Soto’s was an actual SHOW.

The night offered not one, but four music acts, not even counting the deejay: cover band Jared’s Fish N’ Grits, Mr. Bartee, and two teen solo artists—a young cellist named Evan, and singer, actress, and model Sarah Caroline. All four provided distinct musical flavors so the audience had no time to be bored.

Evan placed a Bach piece. The cover band performed pop hits during the various intermissions, including “Happy”, Bruno Mars’ “Amazing”, and “Marry Her Anyway.” Bartee brought the old school slow jams, such as Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and “You Are So Beautiful”. Sarah Caroline, whose booming voice is a magnetic mix of Adele and Fiona Apple, made an indelible first impression by singing “Fly Me to the Moon” a cappella, then later sang Christina Aguilera’s “You Are Beautiful.”


Actress, model, and singer Sarah Caroline prepares to sing "You Are Beautiful" during the Jarix Fashion Show. Source: Mellissa Thomas.

Caroline prepares to sing “You Are Beautiful” during the Jarix Fashion Show. Source: Mellissa Thomas.


Power Move 3: She had a powerful, industry-specific media personality onboard.

The pre-show red carpet (yes, she had one) was hosted by Angie Bee and the charismatic and hilarious Jorge Alvarado, fashion industry veteran, media personality and host of Tampa’s The Jorge Show on MiraTV. Alvarado, who also co-judged the Fashion E.D.G.E. Competition at the beginning of the month, brought laughter to the red carpet and the runway, offering pithy remarks about the clothing while the models walked. He was even instrumental as a translator for one of the night’s special guests.


"The Jorge Show" host Jorge Alvarado (left) interprets for Jarix Fashion Show hostess Angie Bee (center) and Miss Teen World of Puerto Rico, Genesis M. Caraballo during her red carpet interview. Source: Mellissa Thomas.

“The Jorge Show” host Jorge Alvarado (left) interprets for Jarix Fashion Show hostess Angie Bee (center) and Miss Teen World of Puerto Rico, Genesis M. Caraballo during her red carpet interview. Source: Mellissa Thomas.


Power Move 4: She had tiaras in the house.

That’s right. Not one, but three pageant winners were in attendance for Sunday’s show: Ms. Florida Excellence and 2009 Ms. Corporate America winner (and New Image Youth Center founder) Shanta Barton-Stubbs, Ms. Citrus winner Rosanna Tran, and Miss Teen World of Puerto Rico, Genesis M. Caraballo. Alvarado interpreted for Caraballo and Angie Bee during her red carpet interview, and one of Soto’s aunts translated for her during her special introduction during the show.


(l-r): Jarix Fashion Show hostess Angie Bee, Miss Teen World of Puerto Rico Genesis M. Caraballo, Ms. Florida Excellence and 2009 Ms. Corporate America Shanta Barton-Stubbs, Ms. Citrus Rosanna Tran, and Jorge Alvarado. Source: Sharlyne Thomas.

(l-r): Jarix Fashion Show hostess Angie Bee, Miss Teen World of Puerto Rico Genesis M. Caraballo, Ms. Florida Excellence and 2009 Ms. Corporate America Shanta Barton-Stubbs, Ms. Citrus Rosanna Tran, and Jorge Alvarado. Source: Sharlyne Thomas.


Power Move 5: Soto brought fierce designs.

Jarix Fashions offers seven different collections. The Survivor collection kicked things off with intricately designed party wear. One was a two-piece suit whose top had cutouts in the back, and another was a long-sleeved dress with the rounded short-front-long-back style of popular junior dresses.

The Battlefield Chic collection featured black pieces with color accents. One jacket had a camouflage patter on the back and its bottom panels were actually flipped backwards and stitched to the back to form the pockets (below). Other pieces included a long black one-strap dress with tiny shorts worn beneath the center slit; a black tube top and colorful print high-waist pants; and a metallic dress with a solid top and ruched bottom.

Jarix Fashions' "Battlefield" collection features this jacket with a camouflage back and back-flipped bottom panels for pockets. Source: Mellissa Thomas.

Source: Mellissa Thomas


The Pink Rock collection popped pink (in various shades) into outfits that ranged from professional to edgy. The favorite was a short formal dress that had a large puffy tail behind it that reached the model’s ankles, giving the dress an interesting asymmetrical look, and perfect for a rebellious prom queen or a Grammy Awards after party. “This gives me a sudden urge for cotton candy,” Alvarado said as the dress made its way down the runway.

The Rainbow collection lived up to its name, featuring casual wear in vibrant colors and patterns. One ensemble boasted a flowing waist-high-slit teal dress with golden dots matched with shimmering cobalt blue leggings (below). “I just want to take a Sharpie and connect all those dots,” Alvarado commented. The second piece was a long multicolor one-shoulder dress with black side panels.

Jarix Fashions high-slit teal dress with shimmering blue leggings ensemble. Source. Mellissa Thomas.

Source: Mellissa Thomas


The Sophisticated collection brought professional and formal attire with a silver snakeskin print, black, and white palette. The first ensemble was a business suit consisting of a textured black jacket with a white back with black print, matched with a white minidress. The second was a long metallic snake print dress with a crop top that offered the same white-and-black-print pattern seen on the back of the business suit jacket. The third piece was altogether different, offering a red top with black lace sleeves matched with two-tone wide-leg pants: white in the front, and black in the back. The fourth hailed back to the first two in a more curious way: Alexa Soto, Senia’s mother, announced the top was a trench. The short-sleeved dark-colored coat was lined with the white-with-black-print pattern, and draped over a shimmering gold jumpsuit with a single black side panel.

The Grammy collection exhibited two dresses. The first was a sultry burnt orange with a white center accent. The open back cascaded flowing fabric from the shoulders, dancing in curved layers as the model walked. The second gown featured a metallic sequined upper half with a long pink lower half.

The night’s finale was the flagship “Oscar Ready” piece, a two-part gown affectionately called “Diamonds.” The piece involved one-part long skirt, which had a black-and-white print similar to the Sophisticated collection, draped over with rich cerulean blue ruched fabric over the front, falling to the left side (below). The rosebud-like ruching on the front and back of the gown make it complimentary for a woman of any figure. Soto proved that point with the very model wearing it, who is eighteen weeks pregnant. The dress completely disguised her bump.


Jarix Fashions "Diamonds" Oscar-Ready gown. Photo: Mellissa Thomas.

Source: Mellissa Thomas


Power Move 6: Soto was prepared for buyers.

Each seat had an order form with the collections listed so that if anyone in the audience wanted to buy a piece, the person could place an order on the spot. Furthermore, each seat had a branded paddle and attendees were encouraged to wave their paddles when they saw pieces they really liked, which would give Soto an idea of what works and what to improve on.



Power Move 7: The show featured high-quality vendors, and a lot of them.

The Jarix Fashion Show had at least ten vendors. Five were independent consultants for artisan jewelry companies, including Stella & Dot, who furnished the jewelry for the night’s show. As with most fashion shows, Mary Kay and It Works! Body Wraps were represented, and there were two high-end handbag vendors as well. Additionally, Jamberry, a nail cosmetics company, offered free samples.



Power Move 8: She added an unprecedented element of fun.

Remember the giant inflatable multicolor beach balls? During some intermissions, the team broke out two of those—one for each side of the audience—to bop around in the air, and whoever dropped the ball had to walk down the runway. The crowd not only participated, but had a blast.

Who does that at a fashion show?



Bonus Move: The show featured a raffle with a genius plan.

For a first fashion show, this one gave out approximately ten to twelve prizes. However, it was the process by which to get a ticket that was noteworthy. Instead of paying cash, attendees paid with their email address—an excellent list-building strategy that benefitted the vendors.



Powering Forward

Designer Senia Jarix Soto (center, black and white) joins her models at the end of the show. Source: Mellissa Thomas.

Designer Senia Jarix Soto (center, black and white) joins her models at the end of her inaugural show. Source: Mellissa Thomas.


Senia Soto, soft-spoken and shy, emerged at the end with all her models, beaming with a charming bouquet, excited and relieved at the outcome. She had lost all the seamstresses who had last year promised to make her designs for her, so in January, she chose to buckle down and learn the craft for herself, sacrificing her social life in the name of her passion, and arose victorious. “And on top of all of that, she maintained a B average in her home school curriculum,” Soto’s mother Alexa explained during a recent interview with Orlando Fashion Magazine.

There is no greater birthday milestone—especially the eighteenth—than fulfilling a childhood dream. It all started with a Project Runway sketch book at thirteen. Soto’s goals include winning the Fashion Designer of the Year award, owning her own boutique, and designing clothes for celebrities. “I want to inspire girls to follow their dreams, and be a light in the fashion industry,” she gushed in the interview.

Soto will not slow down, either. She will be in the Out of the Box Fashion Show in Debary, Florida in April, and the 1st Annual Fashion Gala in Virginia at the end of May. “Our goal, depending on the outcome of this first show, is to do a fashion show every six months or every quarter,” Alexa explained.


Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023



WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.

“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”

“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”

Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.

For more information on the events, visit or

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A Quick Primer on the Team Solving Orange County’s Affordable Housing Crisis



Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force held its introductory meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Board of County Commissioner Chambers. Photo: Orange County Government.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Orange County faces a growing affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Jerry Demings has taken notice–and action. Shortly after his inauguration, he formed Housing For All, an affordable housing task force to face the challenge head-on.

The Housing For All task force doesn’t meet monthly like the County Commission–in fact, their next meeting won’t be until October 4, 2019–but they do work when they’re not meeting. The task force is made up of three subcommittees, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee and Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee. These three subcommittees meet twice a month to come up with ideas and plans to fix the affordable housing problem.

Each subcommittee has a specific focus on ways to help solve the problem of affordable housing. The Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee is focused on the design of new affordable housing projects, the renovation of current affordable housing that might need fixing and land development for affordable housing units. The Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee is focused on making sure affordable housing is accessible to the major economic zones of the city, develop partnerships with groups and focus on outreach in the county. The Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee is focused on finding ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and how to preserve affordable housing.

At their next meeting in October these subcommittees will update the county on what they have accomplished and what they plan to do in the future. For information from previous Housing for All Task Force meetings or the meeting schedule, visit the Orange County Government website.


Leyton Blackwell is a photojournalist and Florida National News contributor. |

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Opening Biopic ‘Te Ata’ Sets High Bar for 2016 Orlando Film Festival



ORLANDO: Chickasaw Nation Biopic 'Te Ata' Sets Stage for Orlando Film Festival.

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) – Orlando Film Festival kicked off at Cobb Theaters in Downtown Orlando Wednesday night. The red carpet came alive with excited filmmakers and actors ready to showcase their projects to the Orlando community and, in some cases, to the world at large, including Nathan Frankowski, director of this year’s opening feature Te Ata.

About Te Ata

Frankowski’s biopic feature chronicles the true story of Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Frances Thompson, whose love of stories and the Chickasaw Nation fueled her to share the Chickasaw culture with new audiences in the early 1900s, a time when the United States was still growing as a nation and clashed with Native American peoples in the process.

Viewers are immediately swept into the saga from the film’s opening scene with a voice-over folk tale told by Mary Thompson’s father, T.B. Thompson (played by Gil Birmingham). Ironically, though his storytelling places the seed of inspiration in her, it slowly becomes a source of friction between them as she ages.

What makes the film engrossing is the sprawling backdrop upon which Thompson’s journey takes place. While young Te Ata (which means “The Morning”) flourishes with each solo performance and eventually sets her sights on Broadway, the Chickasaw Nation is fighting to secure the funding due them from the U.S. government in the face of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry–to the point that the government passed a law forbidding the sale of traditional Native American textiles and creations, which caused further financial struggle for the Chickasaw Nation. Viewers even experience the Thompsons’ fish-out-of-water feeling as the Chickasaw people’s territory, Tishomingo, shrinks significantly to become part of the newborn state of Oklahoma.

The political tensions are counterbalanced with Te Ata’s experience. Te Ata does her first performances among family, but chooses to leave home for the first time in her life to attend the Oklahoma College for Women (known today as University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), despite her father’s wishes for her to find a job at home. Viewers immediately empathize with Te Ata’s awkward experience upon her arrival at the predominantly Caucasian-attended College, but cheer her on when that one connection is made, because all it ever takes is one.

Te Ata’s jumping off point occurs when she meets drama teacher Frances Dinsmore Davis, who encourages her to join her class and to share the Chickasaw stories for her senior presentation instead of the usual Shakespeare recitation. From there, Te Ata’s career blossoms from one serendipitous connection to another, taking her performances across the country. She eventually makes it to New York City, hustling to find her place on Broadway, and finds love in the process while performing privately for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was then Governor of New York. The heroine’s journey continues with well-placed highs and lows, keeping the viewer visually and emotionally engaged.

Te Ata is touchingly channeled through lead actress Q’orianka Kilcher who, like Te Ata, has stage experience, and brought it to bear in the role. Kilcher’s magnetic singing, with the help of the film’s sweeping score and indigenous songs, imprints the true Te Ata’s passion for her people onto the viewer’s heart.

Frankowski, who worked closely with the Chickasaw Nation in creating the film, honors Te Ata’s memory and legacy in a cohesive, sweeping tale that will edify audiences everywhere.



Florida National News Editor Mellissa Thomas is an author and journalist, as well as a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She also helps business owners, CEOs, executives, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.

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