Ruby Sulter’s B.D.F.O. launched its summer solstice line and armed the next generation with the tools they need to feel bold and confident.

By Cy White, Photos by Cy White

B.D.F.O. Founder Ruby Sulter

When Ruby Sulter and her mother, Heather MacLaren, attended Austin Woman‘s 19th anniversary celebration, a world of possibilities opened to them. Sulter is a 16-year-old maven. During the pandemic, she found herself in much the same predicament of many of her peers. Namely, a noticeable dip in self-esteem. From media to fashion, young women are constantly bombarded with the messaging that they’re not good enough as they are. They must aim for a perfection that not only is unrealistic, it simply doesn’t exist.

From that moment on, she was on a mission to give young women a brand they could connect with. A brand sending a different message. “You are bold, determined, fierce and outstanding.”

Define Yourself

From the moment attendees enter Springdale Station, they’re bombarded with messages of positivity. From the woman-owned and -operated small businesses offering their wares, to Urban Betty giving visitors a mini pampering session, the atmosphere is comforting. Warmth and pure joy fill the space. After partaking in some of the sumptuous, decadent delights of Cinthya Romriell’s Cinful Sweets, one could add their own positive messages on the pack wall. Words of encouragement like, “Love yourself,” and “You can be whatever you want to be (like, for real)” adorn the black wall.

Truly, Sutler and her family have created a space for each person to feel uplifted. Given each person in attendance the license to define themselves. This is a healing space. A place of comfort where everybody has the right to express themselves. Sutler created B.D.F.O. to welcome invite everyone to be free with themselves, to honestly and bravely proclaim “I am!”

B.D.F.O.: For the Youth

People of all ages, genders and backgrounds attend this gathering of like spirits. Though B.D.F.O. sprung from a desire to ensure young women never felt left out, it’s an occasion for the young and young at heart to really come into their own. The overall vibe is “young,” no matter how one defines that. Mothers and their daughters. Husbands with their wives. From the food trucks available in the back to the open Topo Chico bar, this was a moment for people to just drink in the experience. The air is thick with humidity, and sure, it’s a bit warm. But not a single person complained. There’s no reason to with the overwhelming sense of comfort pervading the event.

When the fashion show begins, a buzz travels throughout the audience. Seats are lined up in four rows: two along both walls and two in the middle. This configuration creates a makeshift for the young models to stomp down. And stomp they do! These young ladies (and young man) show varying levels modelling of experience. Those who seem seasoned (or at least coached well), walk with confidence, heads up, shoulders back. They don’t smile when they walk, but their eyes twinkle with excitement. The models with a little less experience are all smiles. While they do exhibit moments of self-doubt, in the end they carry themselves with the same mirth as their more experienced peers. There’s a vibrancy and energy on the runway that proliferates the audience. Models and music (a mix of island pop and contemporary R&B) infuse onlookers with an effervescence that’s utterly contagious.

Everyone floats on this bubbly energy from the beginning of the fashion show to the last showcase of models and garments. Sutler then bursts through the doors with a smile that adds extra wattage to the already bright room. She claps her hands in time with the music, leading her troop of enthusiastic models. Her mother and father, too, emerge from the back and dance down the faux-runway. It’s all smiles and excited chatter when the show ends to the sound of ebullient applause.

Be Bold, Be Determined

The B.D.F.O. Summer Solstice show is everything you could ever want in a fashion show. Energetic, positive, bright. Fun! The messaging is something everyone can get behind. In B.D.F.O., Ruby Sutler has created a movement. She dares each and every one of us to be bold, be determined. Embrace our fierceness, proclaim we are outstanding. With this fashion show, she can count herself among some of the trailblazers leading the industry down a more promising runway.

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