With only one week until their clothing line is shown in the Belk contest final round, two Gainesville designers are working harder than ever.

Jacquelyn Brooks and Susannah Peddie entered their Strawberry Blonde Clothing designs into the Belk Southern Designer Showcase after hearing about it through Facebook. The department store has been hosting the showcase since 2012 to give designers an opportunity to get their brand into the competitive fashion industry, with categories ranging from women’s apparel to accessories.

Strawberry Blonde Clothing sells handmade, original clothing designed and crafted in Gainesville. The clothes are sold in boutiques throughout the Southeast and online.

“Our mission at Strawberry Blonde Clothing is to create clothing that makes women feel beautiful and stylish,” Brooks wrote in an email.

The “strawberry” represents Peddie who has red hair, and “blonde” represents Brooks with her golden hair.

Peddie said she has been a nature photographer for 10 years and wanted to print her floral photographs onto fabric. Peddie knew about Brooks through her fashion-design work in Gainesville, and their ideas transformed into a business partnership: Strawberry Blonde.

“I decided I didn’t want to make my own line but wanted to concentrate on the Strawberry Blonde Clothing line because it was more fun to have a partner,” Peddie said.  

The partnership was a success because Peddie needed clothing designs for her prints and Brooks needed textile designs for her clothes.

Brooks and Peddie have been working on a 10-minute presentation they will showcase to the corporate buyers of Belk in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 16. The winner will be announced May 14.

The winner of the 2015 Belk Southern Designer Showcase will have their designs sold at Belk stores and online in spring 2016.

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 4/9/2015]