- Barbara Bates was born and raised in Chicago, attending the public schools and graduating from Marshall High School in 1972. Upon graduation, she held a variety of jobs and began selling her own designs during her lunch breaks. After receiving an investment from a wealthy client, Ms. Bates was able to ditch her day time gig and launch her own fashion empire. She has since dressed many influential figures such as Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and Whitney Houston, and currently oversees a studio in Chicago's South Loop. In 1999, she founded the Barbara Bates Foundation, which donates prom dresses and formal wear to inner-city high school students. The Foundation seeks to empower underprivileged teens to rise above their circumstances and become successful individuals in their chosen field of study.
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