When did you graduate from SASHS?
What and where did you study after leaving SASHS?
After leaving high school I studied fashion merchandising, completing my Associate’s Degree at the Art Institute of York. From there I decided fashion design was the direction I was passionate about and completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Design at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.
Did you go into fashion design immediately?
Well, when I was in high school I didn't know what life really had to offer. I was heavily bullied at school and really was only focused on getting through the day, not what my career would be. Because of that, I waited until the last minute (3/4 into my senior year… whoops!) to figure out what I should do.
Construction work was something I was brought up around and understood, so I thought that maybe something along those lines would end up being my path. When looking for colleges, I started leaning towards electrical work. This was something I felt I could excel in, but was not fully passionate about. Needless to say, my gut feeling told me that the path to becoming an electrician was not where I should be.
Did you always know that you wanted to pursue fashion design?
Coming from a small town... (When I was in Ship, the town was even 'smaller' than it is now!) fashion design wasn't an option. Many people wanted to be teachers or interior designers and past that I really didn't know what options there were. When I started to think of fashion as a career, many people said I was going to school to become a retail manager.
Unfortunately this can be very true if your not willing to be a hard worker and build on your creative talent. So, did I always know that fashion design was meant to be? No. I honestly had no clue.
My senior year of high school, the Art Institute came to one of my art classes and discussed what their school had to offer. It wasn’t until then that it even dawned on me that people really do creative fields for a living and that there are so many creative and artistic options out there. It sounds dumb, but it never crossed my mind that art flowed into so many different career paths. Once I started researching further into their fashion program, I knew fashion would be my niche.
How did you break into the fashion industry?
WORK WORK WORK! I worked hard in college to make sure I learned everything there would be to know. On my own time I learned things that you couldn’t fully understand just from a class. I took every class seriously, not just Drawing and Patternmaking, but Ethics, Aesthetics and Psychology because I felt they were just as important to understand. Design is inspired by all subjects of life! Because of my dedication and hard work to build my skills and learn new techniques, people started to notice. Professors wanted to help me make proper connections in the industry and help me build on my strengths, and help correct my weaknesses.
When I moved to Philadelphia to pursue the design aspect of fashion, that is when I really started to hit the ground running. I not only had to succeed in school, I had to take it upon myself to experience the field. So while in school I commuted to NYC three to four days a week to complete internships at companies such as Oscar de la Renta, Heatherette, and Devi Korell. I knew that if I wanted to be in the fashion industry, I wanted to be a part of the cream of the crop in NYC working for high-end fashion designers (high-end designers are what you see on the runway during fashion week). After graduating from college I applied to jobs online and also went old school going door to door with a portfolio of my work and a resume, hoping one of the designers in NYC that I felt coincide with my own aesthetic would have a spot open for an assistant designer! After three months of sending out resumes and going on interviews I was offered an assistant designer position with a young high-end women’s wear designer. I know that sounds like poof I made it! But in reality I was sending out sketches and resumes to companies that didn’t even have job postings up just to get interview experience. Each day for three months I was sending out around 50-60 resumes or filling out questionnaires online to apply for jobs.
Fashion is a wide field, encompassing lots of jobs. What types of work, specifically, have you done? What do you do now?
Well when people think fashion they really only think about cut and sew designers. Which are the people responsible for designing the silhouettes by sketching them out or draping them on a form. However there are SO MANY other elements that go into design. With my first job I was in charge of the embroidery, print and fabrics. Normally with larger companies you would pick one of those design departments to be in. While smaller companies you can many times be in charge of multiple elements of design. In embroidery design I would go to vendors see what types of materials they were using and then sketch layouts for the season. Each layout would be colored and have instructions to go along with them so that the mill knew what materials and techniques we were interested in having them use. From there we would correspond back and forth with the mill to insure our designs were being executed properly.
In Print design this idea was very similar. Finding new and innovative print techniques and creating artwork for them. The artwork was usually hand sketched first. We then would use different mediums to color in the work and place it into the computer to create multiple colorways, clean the artwork, and make the work repeatable. Repeating the artwork is just making sure that once it is printed once it will seamlessly flow into the next all the way down the yardage with no break lines. We would also do placement prints or embroidery.
For fabrications, I sourced new vendors to work with, went to fabric appointments, selected fabrications and provided the mills with all information needed for our purchases each season. I also had experience interning in production, which allowed me to work closely with our production team. Production takes all the final designs in the collection and mass-produces them to then ship to stores. So I worked with production in costing the collection and making sure all garment details where done to designs liking.
Unfortunately the company closed down in October and since then I have been freelancing in print design. Currently, I am freelancing at Diane Von Furstenberg in their print design department and am loving the experience. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it can turn into a permanent position.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
We are always creating new artwork that someone is eventually going to be wearing. It’s always cool to see the artwork you and the team have worked so hard in creating being worn by someone. It’s a great feeling to help someone else express who they are and feel their best in a print you helped create.
What is your day like?
No day is ever the same. The print design team is always on the go with new ideas and keeping up with each season’s artwork. One day I could be hand-sketching an idea, then placing them into the computer to create an artistic design. Another day I could be researching for inspiration photos and coordinating the paper work needed to send to the print houses. I’m never working on one thing at a time and never one season at a time.
Who are your fashion heroes?
Well if we are speaking heroes, not just designers I love, then I would say: Alexander McQueen (given), Diane Von Furstenberg (given), Prada, Balenciaga, Vivienne Westwood, and Christopher Kane. Above all is Tom Ford, mainly for one of his quotes that inspired me during college:
“When the youth of America gets together, amazing things happen.”
You come from a small town and now you live in one of the biggest cities in the world. Was that a difficult adjustment?
The adjustment wasn’t bad for me. Since I started out small, baby steps was key! I went from a small town to York, Pennsylvania which was a little more city then Shippensburg. From York, I moved to Philadelphia, which is a smaller version of New York and allowed me to transition into the NYC life easily. As long as you embrace all cultures and ways of life, the city is a great place to be and is easy to adjust to. I didn’t know a lot of things and ways of people, but I was willing to learn. Not losing who I was as person really did help. You would be surprised how many people find a country girl endearing and a breath of fresh air.
What is your favorite thing about living in New York?
You can be who you are! Culture is everywhere you turn. No one is the same race, religion, etc. You can really do anything you want in NYC and experience all types of cuisines, cultures, arts, sports and people… If you want to wear neon purple polka dot shoes on a daily basis, be NYC’s guest! You’re free to be who you want to be in New York.
What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?
It’s hard to determine how life will really go, especially in the fashion industry. Companies close, people can be cruel, and sometimes design houses you admired from the outside aren’t what you expected on the inside.
I definitely do know, however, that I want to be with a company that I have been with for many years and to have built my career within design. I would love to build my career in print design, as I feel that is my strongest suit, so we will see where the road leads me.