Prom season is usually a busy time for Cheryl Kitchen, owner and principal designer at CDK Kreative Kreation on Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion.
Kitchen had nearly 200 custom gown design bookings for this year’s season. But statewide school closings and the cancellation of large gatherings means that senior prom dances across the state are postponed indefinitely.
“The girls are just in awe,” Kitchen says. ”The parents are saddened. It’s just been really unfortunate that these girls would not be able to attend their prom.”
Click on the player above to hear how CDK Kreative Kreation is pivoting away from a traditional prom.
Ja’Mya Ross, a senior at Ferndale High School, had big plans — including pulling up to the dance in a Tesla.
“I’m kind of upset because I really was looking forward to prom,” Ja’Mya says. ”It really means a lot to me, because we only go to prom one time.”
Students like Ja’Mya Ross have made a lot of plans, with dress designers like Kitchen, and reserving the services of vendors like photographers. Many have a no-refund policy.
“No one asked for this to happen. I really feel sad for the girls. We’re going to do all that we can do to make sure they have a nice prom.” — Cheryl Kitchen, CDK Kreative Kreation
Making Masks Instead of Dresses
Until the pandemic passes and it’s safe for her customers to have the senior prom they’ve been waiting for, Kitchen is pivoting. She is utilizing her skill set to produce masks for Detroit’s essential workers including healthcare providers, letter carriers, and bankers in the community.
“I’m just blessed that I have a skill that allows me to, you know, produce masks on a larger scale,” Kitchen says. “We try to do what we can to especially help out our community.”
Kitchen is also working on a backup plan for prom. She is in the early stages of organizing an alternate dance for the girls, once the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is lifted.
“No one asked for this to happen, and I really feel sad for the girls,” Kitchen says. “So we’re going to do all that we can do to make sure they have a nice prom.”
And as she looks forward, Kitchen is optimistic for the future — after the pandemic is over.
“We’re not going to let the pandemic run us away. When we come back, we’ll be back strong.”
This story was produced as part of WDET StoryMakers Fellowship.