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Designer Aven Salei Brings Her Mythical Characters to Life as House of Aven Debuts at Phoenix Fashion Week Event

Valley-based designer Aven Salei created the fashion line House of Aven with a mission: to give young women a story with characters they can embody rather than envy. Salei's designs attempt to bring imagination into reality by breathing  life into mythical narratives, offering a wearable story for everyone.

Salei was a participant in the 15th Phoenix Fashion Week Emerging Designer Bootcamp, which helped her build a clothing brand from scratch over the course of six weeks. The bootcamp included workshops in social media marketing, fashion design and networking. 

On Feb. 25, a Phoenix Fashion Week event was held at Trevor’s Liquor in Scottsdale to display  the emerging brands. Salei debuted House of Aven and her first collection of gowns called  “Sparkling Lake” at the pop-up event.

House of Aven hopes to blend a mythical story with each collection that is debuted. The characters purposefully have specific outfits they wear, but no specific features or “faces” so that customers can have “a character they can put themselves into.”

Bringing Stories to Life

The concept of House of Aven is entirely Salei’s imagination and its interaction with the media she loves. “When you watch movies or read books, you always want to be a certain character,” she said. “But it’s like, you don’t get to be the character, that character already exists.” 

When brainstorming a compelling concept for her own brand, Salei thought to herself, “ I could create an outfit or a dress or a story for somebody without a face,” because this would make it easier for anybody to see themself in the dress rather than holding their expectations to a physical character. The character is the wearer . 

“All the lines will have a story written around them,” exactly like the debut “Sparkling Lake” collection, which features three  distinct characters with corresponding gowns. “And then [wearers] can decide whichever character [they’re]  most like,” Salei said. 

The “Sparkling Lake” collection from this season features four characters who all have storylines that involve the same magical lake. 

There is a princess who “sees the lake from above when she flies over it,” and decides to become its ruler.  There is an “ivy goddess” character who plants ivy around trees and the lake. The “glistening waters” of the lake are also a character themselves, represented in one of the four gowns. the story and have their own inspired design. 

Another character in the collection is meant to reflect the author of the story itself. The “author” character was created because of Salei’s idea that “some people may not want to be a character, but they want to be the creator of something.”

How it Started

Before becoming a Phoenix Fashion Week Emerging Designer, Salei was a Top 40 model for Phoenix Fashion Week and had seen firsthand the work done through a cycle of the bootcamp. “I knew that they were good at what they do. So I definitely wanted to be a part of that,” she said. “We learned so much.”

When Salei first began the Emerging Designer Bootcamp, she had “just basically an idea that [she was] running with.” 

Salei planned to ensure her brand’s success by bringing in a story element to pique interests. To Salei, consumer marketing is all about “mak[ing] them want to invest in [the designer].”

To reach this goal though, it takes more than a great idea. That’s where Phoenix Fashion Week’s boot camp comes into play for House of Aven. “We learned a lot of social media strategies, different ways just to build our customer base,” Salei said. 

Salei believes the boot camp was a huge help in the process of getting her new brand off the ground, especially when it came to the logistics of marketing across social media sites and online.

How it’s Going 

In the future. House of Aven and Salei hope to be available to shop in person. “We’re mostly looking at boutiques and retailers in the area,” Salei said about her goals for distributing  the “Sparkling Lake” collection.

Salei feels that smaller spaces that specialize in selling “high-end” fashion would be the best place to house the “Sparkling Lake” collection currently due to alignment in aesthetics and price range.

Beyond selling the current collection, House of Aven hopes to be a well-known  local brand. “We’re looking to grow our social media and our influencer connections,” Salei said. By gaining traction with influencers and other social media accounts, House of Aven hopes to reach the emerging fashion industry. “We want people to be excited about the brand. So we want to work with people who want to work with us.”

Phoenix Fashion Week and its Emerging Designer program encourages local fashion enthusiasts to keep their eyes out for updates from House of Aven via Instagram @houseofaven and from Phoenix Fashion Week @phxfashionweek. Readers can shop the “Sparkling Lake” collection line from the House of Aven Instagram @houseofaven by clicking on the view product option at the bottom of the promotional posts for each dress in the collection.

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