The opportunity to be on Project Runway came at a point in his life when Bishme Cromartie says he felt at his lowest.
The Baltimore native even took to social media to describe how he almost turned down a chance of a lifetime to compete on the popular Bravo Television show.
“I was going to turn down something I’ve always dreamed about just because I didn’t want the world to see what I lacked,” he said. “I remember receiving the call that I made the show, while sleeping on my couch in my studio. I was happy but worried. So worried that I tried to talk myself out of it.”
After a successful run in which he made the final four, the judges sent Cromartie home but not before media critics and others were captivated by him.
“Bishme proved to be a powerful voice throughout this Project Runway season and his smile and personality seemed to shine a positive light,” critic Cristine Struble wrote in a review for Fansided.com. “Even in challenges were he struggled, there always seemed to be a seed of hope in the experience.”
Cromartie says it was a learning experience and he enjoyed his time on the show.
“It’s weird because I didn’t realize I was the first person from Baltimore City to be on the show, and one of the first self-taught designers to get that far,” Cromartie said. “I think I learned a lot about myself, and the experience that I had as I get more connected to myself as a person and being able to realize true confidence— it boosted my creativity and my confidence, so to have this platform and being able to stay true to yourself and to discover who you are as a person.”
The fact that he lasted so deep into the season also was a victory for Cromartie.
“Going in, I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to leave after the first episode and I knew I wanted to stay there long enough to so that people could truly understand who I am,” Cromartie said.
One of the more surprising parts of being on the show was how quickly time went by, he said.
“Time is not on your side just like a designer’s time is different because what people think take two days, we really need at least one week to do,” Cromartie said.
A self-taught designer, Cromartie was just eight-years-old when he says he realized that he was interested in fashion. By age nine, he was already learning how to sew, and he says he loved the feeling that fashion had given him.
Also growing up in what he says was a rough neighborhood, it was fashion that helped him escape his unappealing surroundings.
“I grew up in the inner city in Baltimore and I wanted to be my own example and I put my creative thinking into design, and I began listening to a showcase and it allowed me to thing freely and it allowed me to explore a different world,” Cromartie said.
At the age of 16, Cromartie held his first solo fashion show which revealed insight into his chic, edgy and surprising style. And, even before Project Runway, he had already began making his mark— dressing such celebrities as Andra Day, Mel B, and Niecy Nash.
“Throughout my life I’ve had the opportunity to meet amazing people and learn amazing things that I wouldn’t have learned if I didn’t keep going,” Cromartie said.
As for advice he would offer aspiring designers?
“Not everyone is fine with their clothes because [the clothes] are beautiful. A lot of customers now are turning into conscious customers,” Cromartie said. “So you have to have a message that allows people to connect with you.”