Get on Board with PASSPORT by SP

Thursday, 06 August 2015 23:06 Written by  Iya Bakare

What happens when you have a taste for something? You don’t rest until your palate is satisfied, which Shontay Pinder said she needed to do. With a Master of Arts degree in Psychology, the Chicago native said she wasn’t fulfilled. Without any formal training other than her grandmother teaching her how to sew and distracted by family members who said there was no career in fashion, Shontay decided to follow her own path and pursue what her heart desired.

With a family filled with a flair for fashion and sewing her own clothes in high school, the budding artist possessed the tools she needed to bloom. In 2009, just two years after she earned her degree, Shontay launched her line of custom pieces for women sized 2-14. At the end of 2010, the designer said she took her line in a different direction and expanded it to include plus-sized women.

“My line tailors to women who have a chic and unique appeal in their style,” she says. “I see women who purchase designer wear that looks brand new five years later and my label models that. I love out of the box, classic and modern looks that push the edge.”

As an artist, criticism comes with the territory, but Shontay says she asks for the feedback from her customers.

“I always look at what they wear and how I can make it better,” she admits.

In addition her grandmother’s sewing skills, the importance of hard work was an example the designer followed and admired.

“I grew up with a mother who never missed a day of work for anything,” Shontay recalls. “I follow that lead in my career. I give everything in all of my pieces to make sure all of the products look the very best. That goes along with holding on to your integrity.”

With a hard work ethic and a passion to craft wearable art, the designer said she continue to ponder how she could create her own niche. For sizes 2-20, she created all pieces and it was the advice of a trusted mentor that steered her to focus to outerwear. Coats, jackets and blazers became her line’s statement pieces.

“I’m not just making clothes to make a buck,” the Chicago native says. “The best advice I received was ‘If you wouldn’t wear it, don’t sell it. Know what you’re good at, take your specialty and water it so can grow.’”

With autumn vastly approaching, Shontay recently showcased a private preview of her Autumn/Winter 2015 collection at Park Hyatt Chicago’s NoMI in Chicago.


For more information on Shontay Pinder designs, visit
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @passportbysp

  • Photo Credit: Charles Andre Thomas
Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

She can be contacted at
Follow her on Twitter: @ibakare