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Local Designer Sews for Stars Big and Small

Sewing – It’s what Simyra Ross defines as her gift and it all began back in high school.

“I take a home economics class, it’s a sewing class, guess who the teacher is? Dorothy Woodard, the same teacher who was my mother’s teacher when my mother was in high school. But at the time my mother was pregnant with me at 16. Once Dorothy Woodard figured out I was Wauneta Ross’s daughter she refused to allow me to have a lunch break or any free time, because she did not want me to wind up in the situation that my mother was in – become a teenage parent,” explained Ross.

Ross’ teacher taught her how to sew during all those lunch breaks, and soon enough a passion for fashion was born. Miss Woodard went on to generously pay for Ross’ first year in college at the international academy of merchandise and design.

It was that foundation that allowed Ross to build her own business, “Designs by Simyra.” By word of mouth her fashion-forward clothing spread, and not just friends and family, but also with big names like Whitney Houston and Jennifer Hudson.

“With Jennifer Hudson, we grew up in the same neighborhood; we have several of the same mutual friends,” said Ross.

But with clients like that, she still doesn’t get star struck. In fact, Ross says it’s all about the people underneath the garment.

“The people who are the superstars to me are the people who’ve allowed me to take care of my daughter and my family financially,” she said. “Those are the clients that I’ve had for over 25 years. Those are the proms dresses that I made, like the young lady that I’m making a wedding dress for now who calls me ten years later. To me, those are the stars and the superstars.”

Ross says she uses her true passion to help advocate for unique individuals and make them feel beautiful.

“So the unique shapes and sizes are the people who feel like ‘oh I could never wear that, or never get that made, because I’m a plus size or because I have a disability, because I’m an amputee, because I sit in a wheelchair, because clothing doesn’t fit me right,’” said Ross.

Ross’ daughter Zinyra, or Z for short, is one of those unique individuals, as she dealt with developmental delays and sensory issues. Z inspired her mother to create a “Just Z” line of merchandise using her daughter’s own designs. It’s a clear step toward Ross’ ultimate career goal.

“My ultimate goal would be to have a line of clothing for people with disabilities,” she added. “[That’s] something that I’ve always been passionate about, even before I knew I would have a daughter with a disability. The other part of that dream would be to go out to assisted living homes and cater to people who still love beautiful clothing, but once again, they don’t think that they’re able to have high fashion clothing.”

What started as extra time with her teacher, led to a career where Ross gives her gift of sewing to make an impact.

You can check out “Designs by Simyra” on her Facebook page, and her daughter Z’s website at

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.


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