Fashion Designer Shares Her Black Mold Illness & Symptoms

black mold exposure karen

Karen Noseff is the Texan founder and designer of Fortune Denim. Even without any background in fashion, her jeans have been worn by celebrities like Fergie, Jessica Alba, Drew Barrymore, Mischa Barton… and the list goes on. She is also a contemporary dancer who later pursued singing for a career. Despite being the daughter of a Caucasian father and a first generation Asian mother who threatened to disown her if she didn’t become either a lawyer or a doctor (how typical!), Karen is now pursuing the American dream of doing what she has always loved to do for a living and being really successful at it. What a lucky girl!

Fortune Denim sailor jeans worn by Pin Up Girl Clothing:


She wasn’t always this lucky, however. Not too long ago, Karen was struck with a rare and understudied illness that was caused or aggregated by toxic black mold. This hapa wasn’t a happy camper when her pretty face frequently transformed into what looked “like a monster,” as she’d say.

Her story is featured in length in a documentary called Black Mold Exposure. The movie is available both on their website and on Amazon and not really found anywhere else. It’s a film worth watching and buying for a friend, and I highly recommend it. It’s also in a way quite entertaining to watch, because it’s real but so bizarre. Below is the trailer:


As Bruce Banner (Hulk) is to anger, Karen Noseff is to mold.

The worst part about her situation is that not many believed that her sickness was real. You’d think, all she needed to do was to show up to a disbelieving friend or family member’s house in the middle of the night, or whenever she experienced the mold symptom, and show them her deformed face. Yet, she stayed strong. It was difficult enough to go through a sickness like this without a clue about the cause or cure. To be treated like you were crazy by those you trust and love was way too much to bear.

Watch Fortune Denim founder Karen’s interviews about her appearance in the movie below:

My Mold Story

I personally have been a victim of black mold. My mold symptom was developing a bad gluten sensitivity after moving into my husband’s house that had a problem with mold. I nor my family have ever had any allergies to speak of, so this was a real shocker. Something in our house caused it, and it wasn’t very obvious to me at first. The gluten allergy in itself was treated like it was non-existent years ago. Thankfully now, it is widely recognized, studied, provided for with options, and profited from. However as for mold symptoms or mold illness, it is not. My husband is in far worse shape than I am. I can just stay away from food containing gluten, and I am fine. He however is still recovering and figuring out how to heal himself, even after moving to a new residence.

How It Affects You

Just like gluten allergy symptoms, black mold symptoms are not the same from person to person. Once you are hit by a catalyst that lowers your immune system (in this case, black mold), the sky’s the limit on illnesses your body becomes prone to—from allergies to cancer. That is why someone with Lyme’s disease (ticks as catalyst) can have very similar symptoms or remedy for relief as someone with a gluten allergy, a mold allergy, acid reflux, etc. What doctors sell are drugs. What you probably need to do is to get rid of the catalyst first if you can and then strengthen your immune system with naturally available low mold, low toxin food from God’s green earth for starters.

If you have some spare time, please do watch Black Mold Exposure! Let me know what you think of it, and help spread the word about mold illness and what we can do to help others recognize it. What happened to Karen, me, and so many others can happen to you too.


17 thoughts on “Fashion Designer Shares Her Black Mold Illness & Symptoms

  1. How strange-what exactly IS black mold?

    The diet you and your husband are on does sound very similar! Everyone except my younger brother are on the “diet”. We all could stand to lose quite a bit of weight. The road to eating healthier has been really hard for me! I’ve tried numerous things, but I’m finally sticking to this one! It’s the only healthy eating way I’ve tried and LIKED! ;)
    The funniest part though, is that the ladies who wrote the book are the “throw this and that in” type-so me! I’m not very good at following recipes! I can do something well as long as someone shows me how to do it! But, a pinch of this and splash of that-yes please! It drives my sister crazy though, as she HAS to have an exact recipe to make something! LOL!

    How have you been doing? You haven’t been posting much lately!
    Your sister in Christ,

    1. Hi Natasha,

      Black mold gets formed when there is bad air around (fungus gets formed). It usually happens when you have a lot of moisture trapped within your walls or floor because of a leak. When the rain pours down, it gets trapped and doesn’t get dried by the sun, which is necessary for our overall health.

      God knew what he was doing when he wrote about black mold in the bible in SO many occasions.

      As for the diet, I like making things that I have tasted before or have an idea of dish’s taste. If it’s completely foreign, I’m afraid to make it.

  2. Oh my! Now I am happy I moved back to Italy! My London house was affected by black mold during cold and wet months (which are far more than the usual in the rest of Europe!) I didn’t experience any symptom though. I got rid of it in a week time, as soon as I noticed it I cleaned it with a mold remover I think it was a Dettol product (I don’t know if you have it in the US or if it is a UK only product!) and it really worked! It was gross though. Really horrible, it looks like something it’s growing and it’s alive >__< I am so glad we don't have it in Italy! Unless you've got some kind of water leak somewhere in the house of course. Oh well, I remember when you told me you moved from that house because of the mold and how happy you were! I hope you and your husband recover soon from the mold effects! Lots of love <3

    1. Hey Elisa!

      Oh yes, I remember. Isn’t it crazy?? I’m so glad you moved out too! You could’ve been really sick if you had stayed. We do have mold-removing products here too (regular bleach helps), but it was beyond repair for our home. It was growing really deep inside the walls (parts we can’t really see or get to). Even after you use mold-removing products, that stuff is still in the air. The ancient advise is to not just remove the mold. It was to BURN or completely destroy the object, food, or house where mold is found. I believe there is a lot of truth in that, Mold products, housing, politics, among others things are just trying to get us to not do that.

      After we’ve moved out, I have NEVER gotten any kind of sickness. I didn’t get any sniffles or anything. When our whole family got sick from flu-like symptoms this season, my husband and I did not catch any of it. Our immune systems got better after we tried our best to recover through good food and a clean environment.

      Good to hear from you! <3

    1. Hello Maylee,

      Thank you for your response! If you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not real :) Mold in different levels can be found in air as well, and that’s what a lot of people don’t realize.

  3. Hello, Rach!

    After reading this I remembered that our neighbor who lived on the floor above us had his bedroom bedroom walls ïnfested with black molds. It was gross really when he showed it to us and they said it has to do with poor ventilation especially on the colder months. Anyway, I think I read it in a book a long time ago about the ill effects of the black mold and it´s quite devastating. Glad that you´re okay though except for the gluten intolerance and hoping the best for your hubby´s recovery.

    Take care always! :)

    PS: Yep, I still eat sugar and eat dessert but in moderation of course. :)

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      I’m glad you know a bit about it and even read a book on mold. Most people either don’t know or just ignore it, because they are healthy (right now). Prevention is always, always, always better than cure. Not being able to eat food that you’ve always loved is depressing, but I am happy now, because I find joy in being healthy and creative with food.

  4. Anytime you run into mold, just get a professional out. Unless you know what you’re looking for it’s generally worth it having an inspector out. Many do free inspections and it can save you a lot of time and money and avoiding life threatening mold is always worth it!

  5. Black Mold is everywhere. It doesn’t metter if you are rich or not, you should always think about prevention. We are also on “Mold Removal” business and i have few advices for readers:

    • Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier during humid months.
    • Use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
    • Clean bathrooms with mold killing products. Wear non-porous gloves and eye protection; and have good air ventilation while cleaning.
    • Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.

  6. I just came onto your post and found it quite interesting.I am also associated with bayareawaterdamage.It gives services like toxic mold removal,mold remediation,water damage restoration . Thanks again for writing such a good post.

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