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What Happens When Actress Melissa McCarthy Discovers a Fashion Designer on National TV

In terms of places to be discovered, being seated in the audience of a live national talk show seems as unlikely as they come.

But that’s how fashion designer Justin Haynes caught some unintended air time during a recent “Live with Kelly and Mark.”

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In what sounds like more of a Hallmark storyline, he was seated in the front row with three models — all of whom were wearing his designs — when actress Melissa McCarthy, a guest on the ABC morning talk show, motioned toward the well-dressed foursome and asked what their story was. During the Nov. 30 appearance, Ripa informed McCarthy that Haynes was a designer. In turn, the “Genie” and “Bridesmaids” actress promised to speak with Haynes afterward and told the audience, “You all look wonderful, but they’re killing it.”

During a phone interview, Haynes said, “I was absolutely shocked.”

Based in Enfield, Conn., the designer said that he had been invited by the show’s executive producer to work with its stylists. He also had been introduced to Ripa, who chatted about her style preferences and requested his contact information. Afterward, he was asked to stay for a show, which he did. Haynes was then encouraged to stay for a second show, during which McCarthy noticed him at. She also got his contact information afterward.

The designer said his unplanned TV appearance would have sufficed. “If nothing else would have come from that — just the respect that they gave me as a designer on national TV spoke volumes to me, as to who they are as celebrities. Everybody doesn’t do that. I was very humbled by it.”

As it turned out, others took notice too and have contacted Haynes about potentially working together, setting up media interviews and ordering clothes. “Overwhelmed” by the outreach, the designer has also heard from other executive producers, influencers and representatives from Vogue and the “Tamron Hall Show.” Haynes, who sells his women’s, men’s and children’s apparel direct-to-consumer under the JUS10H label, said he is proceeding methodically to be sure that the contacts that have approached him are sincere in wanting to work with him.

Having been in business for 15 years and taken part in 10 seasons of New York Fashion Week’s Runway 360, Haynes plans to participate in the next edition in February. Although the orders have “taken off” in the past week or so, all in all business had been “pretty steady” before his TV debut. Along with catering to his regular clientele, Haynes does “a lot of bridal wear. Wedding season and prom season are always huge,” he said.

Haynes was invited to return to the set of “Live with Kelly and Mark” on Wednesday and met with Ripa, who inquired about designing an ensemble. “I’m just hoping that I’m prepared for what’s to come. This is what I’ve been working for. I plan to just take it all in stride to make sure that I remain humble in doing this. I want to make sure that I still give my best to each person regardless of who they are — celebrity or not.”

The most challenging aspect of working in fashion is staying relevant and creating eye-catching designs, according to Haynes. “Making sure that people have something special is what keeps people coming back to a brand. There is a sense of uniqueness now in the fashion industry, where everybody wants to be one-of-a-kind. Maintaining that is a challenge, but it’s not anything that can’t be done,” he said.

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