WASHINGTON - For many high school students, going to the prom is one of the most memorable moments in a young person's life. For 18-year-old Mikayla Lewis, wearing a custom-made, glittering gown created by her younger sister made the night that much more special.
Courtney Lewis came up with the idea to make her older sister's senior prom dress months before the dance. The 14-year-old is studying technical design and production at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in D.C. She wanted to try her hand designing a one-of-kind gown, and it so happened her older sister’s prom was coming up.
“My first reaction was like, ‘I don't want to be mean and say no, so I'm going to say yes. But I will have a back-up plan of buying the dress,” said Mikayla.
Stitch by stitch, faith in her younger sister came together as Courtney labored over the dress during every free moment.
“All combined, probably a couple hundred hours,” said Courtney.
She had help from Syreeta Herbert, a family friend and owner of Syreeta C Fashion.
“I made it was a lot of love,” said Courtney. “A lot of sweat, no tears. Tears of joy, actually, tears of joy. It was just really fun to make it, and I just love this dress and I love my sister.”
She said all her hard work was worth it on prom night.
“I saw her in the dress and, honestly, I thought that I was going to cry a little bit,” Courtney said. “Because I was like, ‘This is what I made.’”
Mikayla exclaimed that she “felt like a princess” and couldn't stop smiling, according to her mother.
“When I saw the dress on Mikayla, I was a bit emotional. I've always had confidence in Courtney's talent, but to see it on my oldest almost brought me to tears,” said Crystal Lewis, who also has two younger children, nine-year-old Amari and three-year-old Kennedy.
As the oldest sibling, Mikayla knows she’s supposed to set the example, but in this case, her sister provided both a dress and a lesson.
“Push through barbed wire,” said Mikayla, standing next to her sister. “No matter what is thrown at you, you're able to get through it, so that's what I learned about her.”
Mikayla, who lives in Maryland and attends a dual enrollment college prep school, will graduate this year with her high school diploma and also her associate's degree in health sciences, her mother said. She plans to attend the University of Maryland College Park in the animal science pre-professional program, with the ultimate goal of veterinarian school.
As for the dressmaker extraordinaire, Courtney loves all things design.
“She re-purposed an old doll to look like me and gave it to me as a Christmas gift last year,” Crystal said, who also shared about her daughter's dress-making talent on Instagram.
“Have faith in your ability! Don't let anyone dictate the outcome of your journey and destiny because it sounds odd to them,” she wrote.
This story was reported from Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.