San Diego Fashion Designer Wins Award for Creativity and Service

By Edward Henderson

Photos of red carpets at award shows do a beautiful job capturing the glitz and glamour of achievement. What the photos don’t show, however, are the struggle, sacrifice and inspiration that got them there. San Diego based fashion designer Chebra Dorsey is familiar with all three.

Dorsey received the Lady in Red Diamond Award from the Multicultural Motion Picture Association in Beverly Hills last month for her work styling celebrities for red carpets and efforts in the community with fashion. The honor came after Jarvee Hutcherson, President of the Association, noticed her work at a fashion show in San Diego and wanted to learn more about her story. What he found was a woman who discovered her passion in the rubble of the life she had previously built for herself.

Dorsey specialized in hair for 16 years before ever thinking about fashion. She was the owner of a successful salon in University Heights and found comfort in the profession. In 2010, however, financial issues caused her to lose her salon and her home. When that season passed, a new dream emerged for Dorsey as fashion design took hold of her imagination.  

“It was a transition because it brought something out of me that I didn’t know I had and I was afraid of it,” said Dorsey. “I was more at peace then I ever have been finding a strength, courage and freedom I didn’t know I had.”

Her designs started as samples she would have displayed in her salons but when people showed interest in them, Dorsey decided to pursue the craft full time. She founded O’Chea Fashion Boutique that same year and currently has a location on 7951 Broadway in Lemon Grove.

“O’Chea means original. Being yourself and not following anybody. It means being confident in yourself and not being afraid of things that are challenging to you.”

Initially Dorsey’s challenge was getting her name out as a designer. The difficulty came from not being surrounded by many in the San Diego area so she frequently traveled to Los Angeles to make connections. During her travels she was able to connect with and style actress Kitra Williams (Diary of a Mad Black Woman) and youth singer/actress Ny’Aria Collins at events they attended. These opportunities gave Dorsey the exposure she needed to spread the O’Chea brand.

Another way Dorsey spread awareness of her designs came through putting on fashion shows in the community. The events donated profits to charities and provided opportunities for young women to learn about the fashion industry. Acts like these were determining factors in Dorsey being honored at the Lady in Red Diamond Rose Awards along with 15 other influential women.

Many of Dorsey’s designs are inspired by Roman and Egyptian cultures as a biblical and powerful statements.

“We are queens. I think that going back in time and bring it up to date to remind us of a power that never changes. We want to keep it going toward the future.”

To see more of Dorsey’s designs and future show dates, visit


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