Posts filed under 'Designer Profiles'

Backstage: Interview with Jay McCarroll

Omiru: Style for All (www.omiru.com) conducts an interview with Jay McCarroll (of Project Runway Season 1 Fame) backstage at the Jay McCarroll Spring 2007 show at New York Fashion Week.

1 comment September 21st, 2006

Backstage: Interview with Tia Cibani from Ports 1961

Omiru: Style for All (www.omiru.com) conducts an interview with Ports 1961 Creative Director Tia Cibani backstage at the Ports 1961 Spring 2007 show at New York Fashion Week.

1 comment September 15th, 2006

Backstage: Cynthia Steffe Interview with Omiru


Omiru’s own Melody Nazarian goes backstage at the Cynthia Steffe show to bring you a few words from the designer herself.

1 comment September 13th, 2006

Designer Profile: Peggy Li

A quick glance at designer Peggy Li’s work schedule, and you’ll (rightly) assume that she’s a superwoman.  Balancing a day job at notoriously hardcore technology company Electronic Arts and a second job running her own jewelry company, Peggy manages to create feminine, functional designs that are as unique as they are wearable.  Speaking of superwomen, you may have seen her designs adorning some of TV’s most popular vampire slayers–Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan.  Read on to learn about the ambitious designer, her thoughts on jewelry trends, and how she manages to balance work and life.

Jewelry Designer Peggy LiOmiru: How and when did you start making jewelry?

Peggy: I’ve been crafty and making jewelry all my life. But about 5 years ago I had started making jewelry again when I was living in Los Angeles—I was a poor journalist and wanted to have some pretty things for myself!

O: At what point did you realize that you were really on to something?   

P: After I sent in samples to my favorite TV show, "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer" and the costume designer called me back and said, "We love it, please send more."

O:  In three adjectives, how would you describe the Peggy Li brand?

P: Feminine, elegant, and modern.

O:  Describe your design inspiration.

P: The beautiful natural materials I work with are an inspiration to themselves. I also look at current fashion trends for inspiration in my jewelry design. I don’t make anything that I wouldn’t wear myself.

Peggy Li Ringlet EarringsO: What has been your biggest challenge?

P: My biggest challenge has been running the business while still working full-time. While it meant missing out on a lot of opportunities, the slow growth has also let me continue to design when and what I like and keep the business personal.

O: What’s a typical day like for you?

P:  I wake up and check my email, answer customer questions and log in new orders. If it’s Monday-Wednesday, I then go to my day job and work and then come home and work on orders until midnight! If it’s Thursday or Friday, I spend the day working on orders, creating new designs, answering email, updating my website, and surfing the web for resources and ideas.

O: How do you balance your day job with your second job designing jewelry?

P: I recently went part-time with the day job and am living a much more balanced life now! I’ve also allowed myself a little breathing room, like not feeling guilty if I turn an order around in 48 hours instead of 24.

O: Little known fact about you?

P: I spent my first years in Los Angeles trying to make it as a screenwriter.

O: If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?

P: I would keep my classic black leather Christian Louboutin pumps.

O: Thoughts on Silicon Valley style?

P: It is very very casual. Flip flops and t-shirts are a common sight at my job.

Peggy Li Lovely Leftovers BraceletO: Favorite piece from your collection?

P: My favorite piece is always my newest piece. Right now I love my Lovely Leftovers Bracelet!

O: Favorite designers?

P: My style has gotten so casual since moving back to the Bay Area! I’m wearing lots of jeans and Splendid t-shirts.  In terms of window shop designers, I love Balenciaga, Missoni, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent, Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and Tom Nguyen.

O: What are the current trends in jewelry design?

P: Still lots of variation in chains, both in gold tones and silver. This fall I’m going for darks, with oxidized sterling chain and deep colors from red ruby, navy iolite, grey sapphires, smoky quartz and deep greens.

O: How about the next big jewelry trends?

P: Jewelry is great in that the trends get reinvented over and over again. The next big trend is taking the bohemian horns/tooth motifs from the past year and breaking them out into even broader nature themes. You’ll see insects of all sorts, branches, leaves, feathers, lots of critters in many interpretations.

Peggy Li Alphabet NecklaceO:  Jewelry-buying advice?

P: Buy only what you know you’ll wear! Don’t be afraid to mix gold and silver. Don’t be afraid to go big or dangly, even if that isn’t normally your style — anyone can pull off those looks.

O: What can we expect from your next collection?

P: Lots of luxe details like ruby accents and a move back to big stone necklaces.

O: What can we expect next from Peggy Li, the company?

P: Watch for my work to appear again this fall on ABC’s "What About Brian?"

O: Last words?

P: Everyone has a creative side — find it and express it, it will make you happy!



View and shop Peggy’s collection at PeggyLi.com!  Designs shown (from top): Alphabet Name Necklace, Ringlet Earrings, and Lovely Leftovers Bracelet.

2 comments August 24th, 2006

Designer Profile: Michael Wesetly

Michael Wesetly’s story reads much like a modern day version of the Tortoise and the Hare.  While other designers scurry to crowd the catwalks of New York Fashion Week and push their clothes towards as many retailers as possible, Michael is deliberately taking it slow. 

And one step at a time, Michael is gracefully opening doors, fine tuning his product, and building his brand.  With an international fan base and pent-up demand in the US, Michael Wesetly will be launching in the US this spring—you’ll be hearing more about the deliciously brilliant designer in the coming months.  Goes to show that slow and steady wins the race.

Michael WesetlyOmiru: Describe, in a nutshell, the Michael Wesetly brand.

Michael: We’re a tailored suit company with a contemporary edge.  We’re not for the younger generation, and we’re not for the older gentleman, but we’re a high quality designer suit company with athletic, European style fit. 

O:  How does the suit market differ from the sportswear market?

M: It’s so hard to gain access to the market, especially at the high-end level.  With sportswear, you get a nod in.  But with suits, it’s hard to be recognized.  A suit is like a steak; you can make it taste good, but you need to know what you’re doing. 

O: Why did you focus on high-end, luxury men’s clothing? 

M: There aren’t too many new designers out there in this market, since it’s hard for a new guy to break in.  By new, I mean designers like John Varvatos—not established designers like Gucci or Zegna.  Because of this, I didn’t launch my brand at home. I went overseas to Russia and sold the brand there for Russian Fashion Week.

O: Why overseas?

M: Within this game, there’s no blueprint.  It’s not like all designers need to start in Texas, move to Chicago, and then go to New York.  With the company we had, I felt it was a strategic move to not start at home.  I wouldn’t face judgment based on styling or income.  If you look at high-end designers, or African American designers, you don’t see many in the high-end market.  You see them in the sportswear section.  But not in high class, high quality clothing.  Also, Moscow is one of the top fashion cities in the world.

O: Thoughts on Project Runway?  Do you watch?

M: Oh my gosh no.  I don’t have time.  God bless those guys though, if that’s the way they want to start their career.  I don’t pay too much attention to it.  It’s interesting to see the judges really discriminating and judging the contestants, since the contestants are their future competition.

Michael WesetlyO: Do you think that the show is an accurate reflection of the industry?

M: Yes and no.  Yes in what they pick.  Sometimes people think designers set the trends.  But it’s buyers who select what’s in stores.  However, there are so many other aspects than just design.  Many people can make good clothing, but it’s also about how you run your business.  It’s so much more than great clothes.  I would say that only 40% of the game is the actual clothes.

O: Biggest challenge?

M: We’ve conquered most of them.  It’s about making sure infrastructure is where it has to be.  What do we need to work on?  We’re about to launch into the US market.  Everything that we’ve done up to this point is promotion and marketing.  Wanted to make sure that people knew who we were before we got here. 

O: What’s your game plan?

M: We’re working hard and playing slow.  We don’t want to burn out.  Everything is calculated so that we can serve the end user and make sure they get the best products from us.  If you give the customer an authentic, awesome product, customers are going to come.  We’re a global designer company.  We look at it from a global, not a US standpoint.  For Fashion Week, we’re going to Tokyo [Fashion Week] then Rio de Janeiro [Fashion Week], then Olympus [Fashion Week] in New York.  In my eyes, Olympus is the best fashion week in the world.  And instead of being a niche designer label, we’ll be at the footsteps of Ralph Lauren and Gucci.

O: What’s a typical day like for you?

M: Currently, I live in Pennsylvania and  work in New York.  I drive from Pennsylvania to New York, where I speak with my team.  Mornings are spent doing PR and getting the word out about Michael Wesetly.  But most of my work is actually done in Pennsylvania.  It’s not like New York—it’s where I can come home, relax, and hit the sewing board.  It’s the best part of my job. 

O: Little known fact about you?

M:  There are a lot of secret things about my brand.  I’m 6’6”, and when fans come to see me after my shows, it catches them off guard to see that (1) I’m a black guy, and (2) I’m 6’6”.  Also, I lived abroad for seven years.  And I was a law major at Penn State.

Michael WesetlyO:  How about some Michael Wesetly company trivia?

M:  We test our clothing.  If people like it, then we can sell.  The fashion industry is backward.  In other industries, and especially pharmaceuticals, they test and then they sell.  With fashion, the testing stage is nonexistent and designers have to cross their fingers hoping that the customer likes their work, hoping it sells.  In part because of this, making millions as a designer is rare.  It’s almost like going to the NBA right out of high school.

O: Best fashion tip for men?

M: Be
yourself.  Many people want to change this and change that.  That’s
fashion. But if you feel comfortable, it’s fashionable.  Great clothing
makes you feel like you’re wearing nothing.  Less is best.  Keep it
simple.  The simplest design is always your best seller, but it’s also
what makes people comfortable.


O: What can we expect from your Spring 07 collection?

M: Luxury from both markets—high-end suits and funky sportcoats.  I don’t have stuff for everbody, but I’m damn close.  It’s a good mix of products.  Look out, it’s coming!

O: Where can we purchase Michael Wesetly clothes?

M:  We’ll be in 42 exclusive locations across the country for our US launch.  We’re not going for the big bucks, but the big bucks are going to come.

O: Last words?

M: I don’t have a design team.  It’s just Michael Wesetly.  I personally design everything, down to the fiber content of the suit.  I’m also a relentless editor.  I’m not going to give you 99 garments.  I’ll give you the 15-20 garments that I know will sell. 

1 comment August 10th, 2006

Designer Profile: *Fat Free by Cici

There’s a new way to drop some pounds, and it doesn’t require giving up cookies or going to the gym. Feel instantaneously lighter by sporting designer Aylin Gould’s brand-new weightless accessories line, *Fat Free by CiCi,  made of Italian lambskin, Swarovski crystals, 14K  Gold and Sterling Silver. The San Diego-based designer was preparing her handbag line (yes, she’s a busy gal), CiCi by Aylin, when she decided to add accessories.  Using leftover materials, she createdthe first pair of *Fat Free by CiCi earrings. Omiru had the chance to talk to Aylin about what makes her collection unique, the origin of the *Fat Free concept, and in which stores you can snag your *Fat Free goods.

ring

Omiru: How did
your interest in fashion design start?

Aylin:
Ever since I
was a little girl, I would play “dress up,” trying on my mom’s make-up and high
heel shoes.  I was raised a little more
strictly than most of my friends, and there
were a lot of outfits that I was not allowed to wear in high school.  I loved to sketch my own clothing designs,
dresses, tops, handbags, jeans…that I fantasized about wearing one day!

O: Why did you choose
to focus on accessories?

A:
“Accessorizing
is not the frosting on the cake….it’s the main ingredient!” I almost always base my outfits around my accessories…while
most girls put on accessories as the final touch.

O: What makes your
collection unique?

A:
My collection
is very unique in the sense of style, shape, and touch. The *Fat Free collection is so incredibly soft and light…so
fat free!

O: Each of your
accessories is virtually weightless. Was this feature accidental or was it
planned that way?

A:
By accident! I had been designing handbags for the past
few years.
  Realizing how competitive the
accessory market was really made me start brainstorming about other outlets or other
items to introduce.  *Fat Free was born on February
24th, 2006
, as I was getting
my handbags ready for a local trade show. 
Hoping to at least break even, I wanted to introduce something else to
sell.  I bought some plain beach
flip-flops and applied Swarovski crystals.   Surprisingly they turned out
super-cute!  I thought these would be a
guaranteed sale, unlike $450 handbags! 
This sparked a creative path, which led me to my leather scraps, which
are leftover pieces from my handbags.  I
started cutting different shapes and then started applying the leftover Swarovski Crystals to the leather cut-outs.  I then threw on some 14K gold earring hooks, and we
were “good to go!” 

O: How did you know you were on to something?

A: My first *Fat Free creation,
“Feathers”, was made with Turquoise Italian lambskin.  I first ran to my husband to get his honest
reaction.  He liked them a lot, even
though they were a bit flashy.  To be
honest, I was worried they might have been a little too “crafty.”  So that afternoon we took a walk through the Gaslamp district in downtown San Diego.  I
was wearing jeans, flip-flops, and a black tank top….with my new Turquoise
“feather” earrings.  The reaction we got
amazed us!  Men and women, young and old
were throwing compliments at my new piece of jewelry!
  From that day
on, everything just fell into place.
  The
company name, logo, marketing, trademarking, packaging, line sheets, store
sales, word of mouth sales…etc.
It was so nice to
see something positive out of our own company!

O: What are you
inspired by?

A:
I am inspired
by color and nature.  I love seeing all
the different color combinations in the sun-setting sky.

O: Design
philosophy?

A:
Without
accessories, fashion would be compromised. I always add a little bit of drama to fashion, using bold colors and mixing unexpected textures and shapes.

earringsO: If you were to add
a new accessory or product to your current line, what would it be?

A: I would add an
apparel line.  Lightweight, low calorie
blouses, tops, dresses, and more.  THE LOOK: modish and chic. THE FEEL: light weight, comfy yet sexy.

O: What is your
favorite piece?

A:
“Angel of Hearts”…in the MILK color!  I love the idea of having accessories that
work year round!  They add style and sass
to my summer tops and dresses while keeping my winter wardrobe looking
fresh!  I love adding light colored
accessories to heavier/darker clothing.

O: Where can we find *Fat Free accessories?

A: LF stores
(nation wide), Gracie’s Boutiques, JEP boutiques…and more!

O: Is your line
fairly affordable or does it break the bank?

A:
The fat free
collection is very affordable…all suggested retail prices are under $100!

O: If your house was
burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you
keep?

A: 
My mom’s gold locket that she used to wear
when she was in high school.  It has a
beautiful flower etched into the front of the locket.  Inside is a black
and white photo of her when she was in high school.  The locket is so special to me…I wear it all
the time!  I also love how it adds a nice
feminine touch to any outfit–even Jeans
and a T.

O: Last words?

A:   Well…I’m 100% Turkish, born in Santa
Barbara,
CA.  My nickname is “CiCi." I studied Art with an
emphasis in Interior Design at San Diego State University. 
I’ve worked in the corporate world of interior design for more than 8
years.  I’ve taken elements of home
design and combined them with fashion design! 
I’ve really been able to put a fresh creative twist on my designs through my previous experiences.

As for Fat
Free:……*Fat Free is loved by not only your simple “girl next door” but also
your more complicated fashion gal!  The
woman who wears Fat Free is outgoing, fun, attention seeking without being
obvious, sexy, and confident.  She’s a trendsetter!

See more *Fat Free by Cici accessories at FatFreeStyle.com.

Add comment August 3rd, 2006

Designer Profile: Tina Schweiger of Erebelle

Whether you’re a workout fan or whether you prefer to merely appear as if you break a sweat every now and then, Omiru has a treat for you.  Erebelle, a fitness inspired casualwear line, features stylish and artsy looks for women that work equally well at the gym as on the town.  Not only can you glide effortlessly from errands to Yoga practice in Erebelle gear, but you can also support up-and-coming artists as you do so, as each of Erebelle’s five collections per year is inspired by the work of a rising star in the art world.  Omiru caught up with Erebelle designer Tina Schweiger to dish about the intersection of art and entrepreneurship, why she chose to design workout clothes, and what we can expect next.

fall Erebelle lookO: How and when did your interest in fashion design start?

T: My interest in fashion design started in a roundabout sort of way. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and decided to create a line of clothing, especially since I’m not a fashion designer. Instead, it was an evolution of an idea whose best expression happened to be fashion design. This was close to two years ago.

O: Why did you choose to focus on workout clothing?

T: Two reasons – The first was to capitalize on the emerging “crossover” market of clothing that is both for working out in and living in. The second reason was simply because it’s my favorite type of clothing since I’m always either doing Yoga or swimming or walking.

O: What makes your collection unique?

T: We have found a non-tacky way to integrate artwork into the clothing. We have allowed the artwork to inspire the color story for the season. We’ve reproduced the artwork in a way that retains the true integrity of the work and yet does not overpower the clothing. It’s like you get an original work of art with your clothing purchase.

O: Each of your pieces incorporates the work of an emerging artist. Were you always interested in art?

T: I have been an artist since I could pick up a crayon. With Erebelle, I have decided to implement the work of artists into the clothing. This provides an “alternative gallery space” for artists’ work. In addition, it gives artists the opportunity to understand more about business transactions and broaden the horizons of possibilities beyond gallery walls. At Erebelle, I strive to create opportunities for artists by accepting artwork submissions from unknown artists and integrating them into a season of Erebelle clothing.

O: How do you choose artists to feature?

T: Artists are invited to submit work through the website. We are actively pursuing outlets to publicize this opportunity through media generated with the help of our PR firm. Once we receive a submission from an artist, it is screened immediately. If the artwork suits the style of Erebelle, it is placed in a finalist file. We review the finalist file and select artwork for a new season during our design phase. If an artist’s work is a finalist and does not get selected for the immediate season, it might be selected for a subsequent season. We feature a new artist five times a year.

O: What are you inspired by?

T: I am inspired by the space where definitions intersect. That is the space where the new and fresh is created. In this venture, I’m inspired about where the definition of “artist” intersects with “entrepreneur.”  How do I define myself as both, and how do I define the artists I work with?

As an artist, I have struggled with endless questions about art: do I hang this in a gallery? Do I reproduce it for sale? Do I sell my talent as a service? How do I sell this? The evolution of an artist to an entrepreneurial artist happens when the artist who wants to make a living is forced to also figure out how to be a businesswoman. This is a very big challenge for many creatives. Business is taught to us in school from the standpoint of numbers, statistics, money and rules. All of these things can be intimidating for the creative thinker.

As an artist, I think in concepts, pictures–NOT in a linear fashion. As a business woman, I have learned that creative thought is much more instrumental to business than our current education system teaches. Creative, visual thinkers are able to grasp a “big picture” perspective on business much more quickly, solve problems faster and are generally more resourceful in unconventional ways. These are amazing skills to have in business.

summer Erebelle lookO: What’s your design philosophy?

T: I follow the rules for creating timeless and lasting designs rather than following trends. While this tends to produce a more conservative result, it also provides one with the foundation pieces in a wardrobe that can transition from one trend to the next.

O: How did you go about selling your collection in stores?

T: We hired an in-house sales rep who hit the road with samples. Luckily, there were a selection of stores who bought into the Erebelle concept. And day by day, that list of stores is growing.

O: If you were to design a new product line to add to your current business, what would it be and describe?

T: We are considering launching a line of contemporary knitwear for women, called YellowfinTina.

O: Some may argue workout clothes should only be worn during exercising. What would you say to those people?

T: I would say that they do not share my inspiration by the intersections between definitions. We are looking to create clothing that works for a workout, or out-and-about. This specific challenge mirrors the lives of women today. How do you balance all of it? It’s an ongoing challenge for all of us. We’re out to embrace a new space for apparel design with the “crossover” clothing.

O: Do you care about what you wear?

T: Of course! First and foremost I need to feel comfortable in what I wear. Secondly, I’d like to feel like I look good. I like to have a nice set of basics to choose from and add a bit of current trend or personality here and there. Overall I’m pretty conservative when it comes to dress.

O: If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?

T: My Erebelle cargo pants with the Red Sun painting.

O: What clothes have you worn that you’re now ashamed of?

T: Anything and everything covered in “splatter paint!”

O: Anything else?

T: Success is being resourceful in unconventional ways.

Add comment July 20th, 2006

Designer Profile: Michelle Romo of Crowded Teeth

Meet Michelle Romo, winner of Fred Flare’s Next Big Thing Contest (her oh-so-cute crocheted ghost necklace nabbed the award!) and Los Angeles-based designer of adorable tees, pins, necklaces, patches, and more. At the ripe young age of 23,  the graphic artist and illustrator already owns her own online store and clothing line, and a dozen boutiques have the honor of carrying her goods. Omiru is pleased to bring to you our chat with Michelle about her interest in fashion design, her inspirations, and her own sense of style.

Crowded Teeth ButtonsO: When did you know that you wanted to be a designer?

M: I started getting really interested in design when I was 16 years old. I had always liked drawing and doing crafty stuff, but when I was 16 my mom brought home a new G4 computer.  It was loaded with Illustrator and Photoshop, so I started messing around doing graphics and teaching myself those programs. A couple of years later, I started Yellow Toothpick – and started making iron on t-shirts with my graphics on them. At that time I also got into sewing and taught myself how to follow simple patterns. Crowded Teeth kind of grew out of that into what it is today.

O: What makes your collection unique?

M: I don’t even know if I am unique!  I guess what makes my collection unique is me - I’m kind of a weirdo. I just want to make things I like – even if they aren’t “cool.”  I guess I’m just lucky if people like what I’m doing. I think what makes my business unique is I have a total DIY spirit. I do almost everything for it, from design, to handling production, to packing orders to making phone calls, accounting, and web design!  I’m a busy gal.

O: What are you inspired by?

M: I get inspired by so much. My childhood had a strong influence in my designs.  I wasn’t brought up with a super strong or traditional Japanese upbringing, but my mom is Japanese, and growing up, my grandparents visited me every other summer. I always had weird snacks, books, toys and little snippets of culture thrown into my regular life. I like cute little things and love Hello Kitty and Licca dolls. I also had a very all American side of my childhood that included a lot of 80’s TV, and vintage furniture, packaging, electronics, and jewelry, (my grandma rarely threw anything out) and I think that influenced my taste and style in design.  I am also inspired by a ton of artists, some of my favorites right now are Ryan McGinness, Audrey Kawasaki, Beci Orpin, Mark Ryden, Junko Mizuno, Brendan Monroe, Saelee Oh, Souther Salazar, Kozyndan, Stephen Britt,  –  the list goes on forever. I am lucky I live in LA and am exposed to a lot of great art.

O: Design philosophy?

M: I think my design philosophy is just to make things I like. I have a day job that requires me to make just what is in style, and because of that, I have to design a lot of stuff I think is crap.  I’m not saying that my stuff is crazy deep or inaccessible, but I think there’s a certain amount of myself I put into my design. I also always want to be making something that is affordable – because that’s important to me. I like to make money like everyone else, but I think sometimes things are priced a little ridiculously. I don’t ever want to be the guy selling an $800 t-shirt that cost me $2.50 to produce.  I hope that doesn’t make me sound like a pretentious asshole  Maybe I’m a bad business person - I just draw things.

Crowded Teeth Crochet NecklaceO: Who do you want to see wearing your clothes and accessories?

M: At this point? Anyone! I haven’t had a real life Crowded Teeth sighting ever.  I got lucky and dropped off my stuff at the set of the TV show Scrubs, and the costume designer liked my designs. So I get to see my t-shirts on the cast of Scrubs pretty often! I think from a nerdy standpoint I would like to see my designs on anyone from the cast of Mr. Show, or anyone I admire in the art community.  In the regular world – I wish that I would have nice people come up to me and say that my designs make them smile.

O: How did you go about selling your collection in stores?

M: I started off doing consignment with a few stores, and it kind of went from there.  I didn’t have any idea how to get into stores. I would just email random people and see if they liked me. I am the WORST salesperson ever. After a while, I started making catalogs and mailing them to stores I thought would be interested in my products. Occasionally people would contact me. It was hard, and I am not good at selling myself. This past February, I did the Pool Tradeshow in Vegas, and that got a huge number of stores interested in my line. Buyers are there just looking for new lines, and a lot of people seemed to like me. I got a great response and I am going to do the show again in August.

O: If you were to design a new product line to add to your current business, what would it be?

M: I really, really, really wanted to do jewelry this season – just simple metal cut out necklaces of my characters. But I couldn’t afford it this time around, and am just going to have a solid t-shirt line. If things progressed ideally, I would just make everything. I want to have a line as expansive as Sanrio or Paul Frank – from housewares to men’s clothing.

O: Can you talk a little bit about your 40-hour-a-week design job?

M: I work as a designer (my official title is Lead Graphic Designer and Specifications Manager – so fancy!) for a company that makes mostly junior’s apparel and accessories (think Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters). I do initial product designs and follow them through into production and do correspondence with China. It’s a small company that does a lot of business, so we are constantly working. It’s fun because I get to design new and different products every day. I can do jewelry one day and then work on bags and t-shirts the next day. It’s really stressful though because the design department only has three people, and we all have a lot of responsibility.  I used to think that designing for my day job and designing for my self was conflicting, but I’m hoping I am just a never ending fountain of ideas. I think I am capable of designing great things for both companies. They were upset with me for having my own line for awhile, but I would never stop doing Crowded Teeth for any one but me.

O: How has your style evolved over time?

M: I think I have always had a lot of the same design sensibilities, but I think over the years I am getting better and better at Illustrator and my work now has a more complete feel than when I was just starting out. I’m also a little bit more grown up now, and I do follow some trends and I think those things help with the evolution of my line.

Crowded Teeth TeeO: Do you care about what you wear?

M: I do care about what I wear, but not in the sense that I have to have the latest fashions or most expensive brands. I dress pretty casually all the time - t-shirts, tank tops, and jeans. I’ve always been a layer-er. I like simple things that fit my weird long torso correctly. I am a sucker for a hot pair of shoes. I think I dress like a lazy indie hipster.

O: If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?

M: My diamond studded, solid gold sports bra. Just kidding. I don’t know. I can’t think of anything in my closet that I absolutely love. Everything in there is pretty replaceable. 

O: What clothes have you worn that you’re now ashamed of?

M: Oh so many! In high school I was really into Ska music and dressed like a “Rude Girl.” It was cute, but it seems almost like a costume to me now – and it was super uncomfortable. I used to wear a lot of men’s slacks that fit me poorly – why didn’t anyone tell me they made my legs look short and funny?  In 4th grade I used to donut my socks and wear these terrible pseudo-denim floral printed shorts that were awful. I wore sweatpants as actual pants until I was like 13.  More recently, I cut off some Levi’s slack/pants at the knee and they make me look like a pirate – they are pretty ridiculous and embarrassing but I wear them anyway.

O: Can you tell us how you came up with the name Crowded Teeth?

M: Everyone always asks if I actually had crowded teeth – but I didn’t. I never had to wear braces, and I have straight teeth. I got lucky. I came up with the name was while I was drawing a skull for some project.  I was describing it to someone and said it had “crowded teeth” – I liked the way it sounded, so I emailed my web host friend and had him buy me the domain. I just decided on a whim to change the clothing line from Yellow Toothpick to Crowded Teeth.

Shop Michelle Romo’s adoradesigns at CrowdedTeeth.com!

2 comments July 13th, 2006

Blogger Profile: Pamela Pekerman of BagTrends.com

Pamela Pekerman is not someone who moves slowly.  Only a year out of New York University, the entrepreneurial journalism major owns a successful handbag online store (BagTrends.com), a BagTrends blog, and a fashion blog assocation (founded with Lesley Scott of Fashiontribes) called "Bloggers who Brunch."  Oh, and she already has stints at Cosmo, InStyle, and YM under her well-polished belt.  Omiru caught up with Pamela to talk about both BagTrends.com and, of course, bag trends.

BagTrends.com Omiru: Where did your obsession with bags start?

Pamela: It would have to be when I received my first Louis Vuitton bag from my sister.  I was 16 or 17, and I really loved the bag.  My love of bags continued in college.  My first fashion internship was at Cosmo in the Accessories department.  Later, I was at InStyle in Accessories.  At both jobs, I was more into the shoes, bags, and belts than the clothes.

O:  Tell us about your site: BagTrends.com. 

P: We feature new designers that haven’t yet hit the mainstream.  We were the first to write about Andrea Brueckner, and we were the first to carry her bags.  We were also the first to report on JT Carpet Bags.  We wrote about them before Vogue and Elle.  We also have a bagtionary—a dictionary of bag terms.  

O: You also have a BagTrends blog.

P: It’s relatively new—we launched it about a month or two ago.  We wanted something that we could update daily without having to talk to our web designer to adjust the layout.  We were covering New York Fashion Week with daily updates, and it was driving me and my sister insane.  We were working from 8am to 3am, writing, editing, and pulling pictures.

O: Favorite Contemporary Bag Designer?

P: Zefanya.  The first collection is coming out this fall.  I saw Zefanya’s collection at a trade show, and I was impressed by the quality of both the designs and the bags. 

O: Bestsellers at BagTrends.com?

P: Andrea Brueckner—we had to reorder.  Ipa-Nima also had a European style canvas and leather tote that sold out really fast.  Renato Minelli bags are also in-demand for good Italian quality.

Andrea Brueckner Bag at BagTrends.comO: Current bag trends?

P:  The Big Thing is color.  There aren’t really any rules right now—we’re seeing everything from neon colors to canary yellow, fuchsia, and lime—some really obnoxious colors.  Even Chanel did a bag in neon yellow with a splash of white.  Someone’s going to regret spending $5K on that bag in a few months.  Other than that, knitting is a big trend.  It’s been around for about three seasons, and it’s not going away.  We’ll be seeing crochet, but thicker, for fall.

O: How about the next big bag trends?

P:  For fall, we’ll be seeing embossed leather with the look of a print.  We’ll also be seeing some great details—I saw a bag with handles that were barrel style and woven.  As for bag size, we’ll still be seeing a lot of big bags.  However, as we move from Fall 2006 to Spring 2007, the bags start to get smaller.  Not small, but not as outrageously large. 

O: What bag trends are going out of style?

P:  Fewer and fewer fashion people are carrying black bags.  Now, they’re carrying brown—or offshoots of brown: tan, taupe, and coffee.  Bottom line?  If you want safe, black is no longer safe.  Brown’s the new safe color. 

Renato Minelli Bag at BagTrends.comO: Bag buying advice?

P:  Always look for quality.  Check out the zippers, and not just the one on the outside.  Look at how it’s made.  Look at the stitching.  Look for a bag with longevity—not too wild, and not too trendy.  Certain styles don’t go out of style—such as the doctor’s bag, the satchel, and the shoulder bag.  Look both at color and at shape.  Personally, I’m big on pockets—so I look for a bag with a good number of useful pockets as well.

O: What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a bag?

P: $1300.  It was the day after I gave the deposit to the web designer to create the Bag Trends site.  I bought a Gucci bag about five seconds after it came out.  I don’t regret the price of the bag—just how it functions.  It has no smart closure to it, and when it rains and snows, weather gets into my bag.  I could have gotten three great contemporary designer bags for the price of this one Gucci.

O: What’s your all-time favorite bag?

P:  The LV Speedy bag.  It ages well, and it never goes out of style.  The bad thing about the Speedy, however, is that it has no pockets.  

O: Last words?

P:  People are very focused on accessories as a whole.  You can have ten women wearing black pants and a black shirt, and each one of them can be totally different through accessories.  Here, accessories are what define them. And what’s fun is that it’s easier to take risks through accessories instead of clothes.

Shop Pamela’s handbag picks at BagTrends.com, and say hello to her at the BagTrends blog.

Add comment June 29th, 2006

Designer Profile: Alanna Bess

While most recent college graduates pursue the 9 to 5 life, jewelry designer and Northeastern University alum Alanna Bess has made her own hours.  In 2002, she combined her childhood passion for jewelry and her college major in business administration, growing a business with her vibrantly hued necklaces, lariats, bracelets, and earrings. Omiru had the opportunity to chat with Alanna about her blossoming jewelry line, her life as a designer, and her career aspirations.

Alanna Bess JewelryO:  What was your major at Northeastern, and how does it reflect your love of fashion?

A: I went to Northeastern University in Boston, and my major was Business Administration, concentrating in entrepreneurship and marketing.  When it comes to fashion and jewelry, I knew I wanted to open my own business one day combining the two, but I did not know when or what it would entail.

O: When and how did you decide to become a jewelry designer?

A: I’ve been making jewelry since I was a little girl; however, I did not pursue my real passion of semi-precious stones mixed with silver and gold-filled metals until I was a freshman at University.  I started designing my own jewelry before the summer of 2002 and started wearing it on Newbury Street and Copley Place in Boston. I would constantly be bombarded with "OH, I love your jewelry, where can I buy it, what store?"  Once I told the seventh person that I made it and that there was no store that exists to purchase an "Alanna Bess,"  I realized I had better start creating inventory.  By the end of that summer, "Alanna Bess" was featured in over 20 boutiques in New England, and I had done numerous trunk shows at people’s houses.

O: Lead us through the design process for a piece of jewelry.

A: I do not sketch anything before I create.  I first look at all my stones and see what color combinations POP!  Then, I string them and see if it is my "look" or my customer.  Once I do this, the stones mellifluously take on their own unique look to complete a piece, and I show them to a circle of my loyal customers to get their reaction.  Upon approval, I add the piece to my line.

O: What makes your line stand out?

A: The most common comment I get is: "I think your jewelry is so unique because of all the colors you put together that I would never think to put together in a million years."  So, I believe the juxtapositon of the colors makes my line stand out from all of the others.  Also, my new addition of ribbon intertwined with the past "Alanna Bess look" really gives my line an edge.  

Alanna Bess Pisa BraceletO: Is Jewelry Design your ultimate career or will you be pursuing other ventures in the future?

A: I am trying to turn my passion into my career.  I would love to be able to wake up every morning and do something I love like designing and making my own jewelry–that is why I am going for it!  I just graduated college in May, and instead of pursuing a career at a traditional company like all my other friends, getting benefits and a constant paycheck in my bank account, I am taking a different path in life.

O: You pursued an internship in New York City’s Fashion District. What did you learn from this experience?

A: I worked at a women’s suits company, and I was able to experience the entire wholesale end of a fashion business, working closely with the design, sales and production teams.  I also was able to show my line to the main designer at the company, sell to his flagship store in Puerto Rico, and custom design Alanna Bess pieces for his high-end clientele.  I was also able to showcase the women’s suits at the Coterie show at the New York Piers.  I hope to one day show Alanna Bess jewelry at the Coterie show!

O: What inspires your designs?

A: I studied in Florence, Italy, and all the art and the museums and fashion gurus there inspire me.  There is even art on street lamp-posts in Italy. When I was there, all the creativity and art everywhere was like pure eye-candy to me.  My line took a sophisticated turn after this experience.

O: What’s your favorite piece in your collection?
 

A: I love the "Isle of Capri" series of necklaces.  I think these pieces are so versatile, and the color combinations are lots of fun.  I love to layer 2 or 3 of them at once to get a whole new look.

Alanna Bess JewelryO: Writers often get writer’s block. Do you get jeweler’s block?

A: The only jeweler’s block I get is when I think something looks good in my head, and then I actually sit down and create it, and it looked that much better in my imagination than in real life.  However, after a few touch-ups,  it often becomes a piece of art.   

O: How do you know how much to price each piece? Does it depend on how long it took you to make? How rare the stones are? 
 

A: Yes, I take all these factors into consideration, adding how much it cost me to get the stones.  Did I travel to a show, or did I get the material at my local supplier?  Also, some people do not realize how expensive semi-precious stones are–I use top quality stones that I hand-pick.  This is because the stones are not man-made, and lot of stones could have natural blemishes that I do not want to incorporate into my line. I take hours and thouroughly examine all strands that come in.  

O: Last words?

A: I come up with new designs on a daily basis, and my website, www.AlannaBess.com, is just a small representation of my line.  I love custom making pieces for weddings and other designers’ lines–this is another angle that brings joy to me as a designer and that truly unleashes my creativity.

View Alanna’s current collection and online store at Alanna Bess.

1 comment June 22nd, 2006

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