Donna Terrell Reports: Triumph Over Tragedy


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Sometimes life gives us all kinds of challenges. 

It’s what we do with those challenges or how we approach the situation that can make a huge difference in how life turns out. 

Linda Rowe Thomas is a good example of a person who took a life challenge and turned it in to something phenomenal. 

She epitomizes the phrase triumph over tragedy.

They are some of the most memorable fashion designs in all of Central Arkansas.

Each dress starts with an idea on a sheet of paper, sketched by hand. 

“Somehow they create the vision that’s in my head and make it come to life,” says Linda.

For as long as Linda Rowe Thomas can remember, she’s wanted to be a fashion designer. 

Although she didn’t know there was such a thing until she was 10, and saw a Diana Ross movie. 

“I remember seeing Mahogany and I said, oh that’s a real job. That’s when I was able to put a title to it,” says Linda. 

But her love for fashion was born out of tragedy. 

Linda’s disfigurement, a reminder of what happened when she was a child. 

“My six-year-old sister, we were standing next to a kerosene heater when it exploded.”

Linda’s sister died from her injuries. 

“Fortunately I don’t remember any of it because I was only two-years-old,” says Linda.  

But the lifetime of burn marks and reconstructive surgeries, a reminder of that day. She needed physical therapy and was resistant, her mother came up with an idea. 

“She saw that I liked to sew. I would sit beside her and would make little doll clothes. So she started teaching me how to sew and she bought me a little sewing machine,” says Linda. 

And when working with her hands got tough, her mom would say, figure it out. 

And she did. All these years later, she’s a natural at intricate details, like stringing beads on gowns. 

“I cannot tell you how because there are no special scissors, there’ no special equipment.  I use the same thing everyone else uses and I say God placed an amazing gift in these unusual hands,” says Linda. 

Her hands have created fashions that have graced New York Fashion Week runways many times. And have led to ward-robing some national celebs. Most recently, actress Erica Ash when she hosted the BET Awards. 

“It was really an idea.”

That dress, one of the first you see in Linda’s showroom. Ash’s stylist saw the dress and said. 

“Oh my God.  Erica would really love this.  I could hear her on the phone.. “I must have that dress.”

Linda hasn’t let her scars hinder her ambitions, and recently she been on social media, sharing her life and encouraging other with words of wisdom. And with 17,000 follower on instagram, her message is being heard far and wide. 

“I want my name to be synonymous with empowerment and I want everyone, anyone, it doesn’t even have to be a burn survivor because sometimes scars are internal, you don’t see them,” says Linda. 

She strives to empower her own children and though she recognizes her success, she says she’s far from being done. 

“I want to be a household name and not just the brand so to speak – but the name,” says Linda. 

And since she’s wasted no time going after her dreams, perhaps her life example truly is a stitch in time. 

Linda impress me when she said. I’m not a victim–I’m a survivor! 

So it’s no surprise she’s spending part of her life-work reaching out to other burn survivors. 

She has a foundation call Designing Hope. 

Learn more about it by clicking on the attached web extra. 

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