RIVERVIEW — Sandra Gray lived in Marietta, Ga., in the 1980s when a woman named Rena Greek caught wind of Gray's seamstress talents and engaged her services.
Greek needed a costume made for her boyfriend, Marc Mero, for an upcoming special engagement. Little did Gray know at the time, that fateful encounter would launch a fashion design career that would take her to places like Las Vegas, England, Canada and Mexico, and land her on a popular television show.
Greek is better known as Sable, one of the first WWE Divas, and Mero wrestled under the stage name Johnny B. Badd. The former couple had a professional wrestling pay-per-view event coming up and it fell on Gray to meet a tight deadline and produce an outfit.
"It was so stressful," Gray recalls. "That night, on the pay-per-view, his briefs were being tugged on the part that I had the most trouble with."
Gray stopped traveling the wrestling circuit a year ago and the Riverview resident has taken her fashion skills to Winthrop Town Centre, opening a store — Sandra Gray Originals — on Aug. 26 that features original designs and vintage clothing.
A breast cancer survivor, the self-taught designer left the limelight for the local life in part to take care of her ailing husband.
"I always wanted to open up my own store and use my talents in my own shop," said Gray, who turned 60 on June 27, the same day she officially took ownership of the store bearing her name at 6027 Winthrop Commerce Ave.
Her fashion talents began when Gray was in ninth grade. She made her own outfits using a sewing machine her Army mother brought home from the base. Soon, some friends began paying her to do the same for them.
After fashioning briefs for Johnny B. Badd, wrestling stars Miss Elizabeth and Lex Luger helped Gray sign an exclusive contract with WCW, which the WWE acquired in 2001. Gray later landed on the reality TV show Total Divas.
Diva Layla El once had a very Janet Jackson-like wardrobe malfunction, something Gray says she strives to never let happen again.
"I make sure," she said. "It's my reputation."
Gray created the Houston Texans inaugural cheerleading outfits, which debuted two weeks after 9/11, and once made 22 uniforms in one week for an Augusta, Ga., arena football team's cheerleading squad.
Gray said she can help locals whether they're planning a wedding or prom, need to make cheerleaders or performers sparkle or just want to win the best costume award at a Halloween party. Visit sandragrayoriginals.com.
Phone repair store offers new location
BRANDON — A new uBreakiFix has opened in Brandon at Regency Square. At uBreakiFix they have seen it all, from smartphones that have been run over by a car to tablets that have taken a dive in a pool.
Every uBreakiFix technician goes through an intensive training process, and they maintain an environment of constant learning, so no device is too new, no technology too complicated.
Stop by the store at 2492 W Brandon Blvd., adjacent to the AMC movie theater. Visit ubreak ifix.com or call (813) 324-8342.
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