Successful alumna proves SJU taught her well

Tonda Ladson, a former St. John’s University alumna, founded the Clearwater Entertainment Company in 1995. This past month, Ladson and Clearwater hosted its third annual benefit fashion show at York College’s Performing Arts Center in Jamaica, Queens.

Ladson’s passion and zeal for her career, as well as the drive she had to form the foundation of her very own company, derived from her experience as a former member of St. John’s Nu Mu Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a well-known community service based organization. She served as a fundraising chairperson, planning numerous events at St. John’s. She believed in recognizing and supporting the community as a whole, which is one of the basic traits reflected in her company.
The Clearwater Entertainment company deals with event planning, as well as special benefit shows, where the talents of aspiring new designers, DJs, models, dancers, and even artists in the music industry can be recognized and given many opportunities to shine in the public eye.

This year’s benefit fashion show focused on raising funds in order to aid the students of the Ralph Bunche School 132Q, in Springfield Gardens, NY, in participating in the Operation Explore Science Trip, which gives students the ability to explore the world of science.

Ladson, who felt compelled to support the cause, noted, “It really is a good feeling to help others, especially the ones you know really need it!”

Some of the specially-invited VIPs at this year’s show included IMT Style Magazine, Jive Records, and Fashion Ledge.Com. Radio station 105.1’s Jay Wright hosted the show, beginning with the National Anthem, sung by Harland Makenzie, as well as a special performance entitled, “Tribute to Our Troops in Iraq” performed by St. John’s ROTC Color Guard.

Following the heartfelt commencement was the long-awaited and anticipated fashion show. Young and brilliant Belin Models worked the stage, as they sashayed to and fro, showing off some of the most unique trends in fashion, such as Her Game 2 and Hurricane 2, both designed by Deborah A. Williams, PH.D, which can be found in all Macy’s Department Stores starting in 2008. Other upcoming designer lines included Designer Knitwear by Michi, (Michele Walden), Cee Har Expressions by Colleen Harris, Invisible Life by Tazair Harris, and Fuseik by Alan Ayana Little-Green.
Models received special treatment by famous makeup artist, Daurisa Villanueva’s, with her trademark I C BEAUTY IN U, and hair designs by Petronille Laurent. In addition to the list of designers, DJ Mo Luv, one of Queens’ youngest and talented new female DJs, and Brandon Primus, a saxophonist and pianist, both who are signed with Clearwater Entertainment, kept the audience lively and energetic with their talented sounds.

Overall, Ladson was pleased with the outcome of this year’s show and strives to do even better next year. Although the goal of raising a certain amount of funds for students was not met, the funds from the fashion show DVD will be apportioned to further support families in sending their children on the educational trip.

Concerning this year’s failure to meet the goal amount, Ladson said, “When you have your own business, there is a certain period of time you have to allow yourself to sustain these types of losses – I expect to turn that around next year hopefully with some even better strategies.”

She also seeks to vault the artists her company manages into star status, that is, Brandon Primus, Dori Villanueva, and Petronnille Laurent. In addition, Ladson is in the initial stages of creating a brand for the company and trying to get the message of her company across to the public.

“We want to spread the word on what we do and why we do it, as well as expanding the networking resources to further fuel that goal,” she said.

For more information about Clearwater Entertainment Inc., visit its Web site at