Friday, December 10, 2010

Questions From You Vol. 1

"Wow. As someone who still can't manage to thread a machine properly, I'm very impressed! It looks so professional, yet also not store-bought. Really nice. This is my first visit to your blog and I'm curious, how did you get into this field? Have you been doing these kinds of things at home since you were small, or did you teach yourself at an older age?"  -Heather R.

Everything I learned about design and clothing construction came during my time at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. I studied there from age 18 to 23 (2005 till 2010 – when I received my BFA in Fashion Design).

Runway shot of me at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2011

I didn't know anything about sewing or pattern making when I moved to San Francisco and started school. I didn't know very much about fashion history or current trends and major fashion houses. All I knew is that it sounded like something I liked and might (someday) be good at. I knew that I would have to work hard and that it would be difficult, but I convinced my mom that it was what I wanted to do and she helped me apply for government aid and loans, while also providing support for me on her own.
And so started the beginning of my design life.  I took my first design and color theory classes and spent sleepless nights working on making the perfect color wheel. Later, my days would start with early morning homework, then class, then a mixture of design meetings, library research, running to make copies, drafting patterns, spilling coffee on myself, and sewing sample garments.  I learned that the most difficult teachers, were my favorite. Many days I would be in tears or sick with my own failure. But the constant pushing to be better is what made me learn to be radically passionate about something.
After school, I interned over the summer (of 2010) at a corporate design company, BCBG Group (located near Los Angeles). I worked mostly with the Herve Leger design team and learned a lot about how big companies operate.

BCBG Group corporate headquarters "design and pattern room" sign that lead to the area I interned in!

Perk of working at a corporate company's headquarters... employee sample sales!
In September 2010, the textile collaboration project I worked on my final semester of school, showed at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week with 6 other master student collections from AAU. This was a huge honor and dream come true for me (and my fellow collaborators!).

My collaborators and design friends backstage at NYFW after our show!

Sketch for one of my looks + working on print placement

Construction process - at school (AAU) in San Francisco June 2010

Final look at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Spring 2011 at the Lincoln Center
Another final look
Another final look.. to see more looks click here.
I am currently living and working in Omaha, planning my next move. I am re-introducing myself to the city I grew up in and learning about how it has transformed during my time away. I am meeting new people, many of them artists, designers and entrepreneurs.
At first things were slow. I felt a little alone in a city that I thought I knew. I have learned to introduce myself to new people and have been working on getting better at talking about myself and what I do. I have also started reading entrepreneur and business books. I have discovered that my goals have shifted and am opening myself to new ideas and possibilities.

Things I have done since coming back to Omaha:

1) Started working as a freelance pattern maker for other local designers
2) Started focusing on building an accessories line of pins, headbands and handbags
3) Attended BarCamp Omaha 2010 (met great people and was able to learn and have fun at the same time!)
4) Started interning with local bridal designer, Megan Hunt of Princess Lasertron

These have all been great and completely different opportunities.

My advice to you:
Never underestimate yourself. Give yourself time to learn and grow. It has taken me a little bit to adjust to being out of school. At first I was overwhelmed with the idea of finding a place for myself in the world. I still am. But it is important not to let this type of thing distract you and bring you down. Stay positive and keep working on self improvement. 

There is more learning and excitement to be had beyond school.

Stay active in your community. Look up what is going on locally. Pick out some events that interest you and check them out. Bring a friend, or brave it solo! :)
Introduce yourself to people you admire
Always be friendly and open minded
Don't be afraid to compliment someone who did something really cool! (even if you don't know them!)

That's all for now! Questions are always welcome and appreciated! <3


  1. Hi Emma,

    Wow, thanks so much for turning your answer into a full-on post!

    I have to admit, part of me was secretly hoping that the answer would be either that a) you picked it up in your spare time later in life and were a pro in no time or b) you've been doing it since you were three -- that it's "in your blood."

    But instead you proved that no talent or skill comes without a lot of hard work and dedication. Maybe there is something to that 10,000 hours rule.

    "Never underestimate yourself. Give yourself time to learn and grow." is a great piece of advice!

    Thanks for sharing your story. Congrats on what you've achieved so far, and best of luck for the future.

  2. Thank you so much Heather! Thank you for your interest in my work and for asking my first reader question! It means a lot.

    I have learned that I have to work hard in order to accomplish goals. And also that I need to go out into the world and find people to educate me in the areas I am interested in. You can't expect yourself to just be good at something without any education. Although there are cases of this, and I think that is beautiful. I just know it is not the case for me. :)

    Keep asking questions if you have them! Stay well. Thank you, again!