What was the first piece of clothing that you ever sewed and how did you learn how to do it?
My first piece of clothing was an A-line skirt that was blue with white hearts. It was a 4-H project that I learned how to sew in class. I still have it on display in my showroom today!
You started your business from the ground up, with a sewing machine and a dream, can you tell us about your initial struggles and what it took for you to be successful?
My quote to live by has always been, “Persistence beyond what seems reasonable”. Most of the people close to me were very worried for several years as I worked around the clock, seven days a week. As time went by, other people jumped on board and believed in the brand and purpose. Sweat equity is a great replacement for hard cold cash, sometimes even better as we had to be smart and resourceful in order to survive and grow. It’s been a trek, but it’s exciting to be on the other side and to have maintained ownership in my company in spite of all the odds.
Did you have any big breaks, or would you say it was just hard relentless work that got you to the top?
I was named Texas’ Next Top Designer by Stanley Korshak in 2007. Along with the title came a package valued at $25,000 to start my company, a $5,000 business grant to start a business and a loft at SouthSide on Lamar in downtown Dallas that is still my studio base to this day. For the 2011 Super Bowl I was selected by the NFL wives to be the featured designer which helped launch the brand onto more of a national stage.
Becoming well known in the Dallas fashion scene and having the opportunity to dress celebrities such as Molly Sims, Vanessa Williams and Perrey Reeves certainly hasn’t hurt either
Can you teach us a bit about how you marketed yourself and built your brand in the beginning and how you are continuing to do it now?
Social media has been key. Having theability to control my message without relying on a budget or a plan is critical. I know how to market, but prior to social media I would have had to go through PR firms that I couldn’t afford at the time. I now have an amazing PR firm in SSPR, and they continue to make social media and bloggers a huge priority for our media strategy.
OK so if you had some advice to lend to someone aspiring to be in your shoes in 3-5 years what would it be?
Don’t look for the quick fix or an instant solution. The only way to wear these shoes is to be prepared to work thoughtfully and hard to get what you want. I could easily have given up 100 times before finally getting to a point of stability, and while it wasn’t an easy journey, it is so rewarding to have built somethingthat I am so proud to be a part of.
So now that you have made it in the fashion industry can you tell us about what your life is like? What are your work days like?
Everyday is different and I thrive off of that. For example, one day I may be traveling and hosting a trunk show at alocal boutique, the next I’m meeting with Nordstrom to discuss business strategies and the following I may be drinking wine with my best friend and sketching out my next design.
Do you wish you would have done anything differently, anything you would of changed about your career, and where are you going in the future?
Not trusting my own intuition and gut early on in my love life had a ripple effect and really took awhile to recover from. He was abusive and condescending, and I didn’t stand up for myself. Looking back I know that I had to experience it in order to have the passion I do now for the oppressed and abused, but I wouldn’t wish my past on anyone. Believe in yourself!
Do you have any final words of wisdom to young sewing artists out there?
Running a fashion company is hard. There are so many moving parts from idea to point of sale and distribution. It is a 24-7 career for my team and I. It is not unusual for us to be together at midnight working on one element or another. I always start my interns with the welcome speech that I call ‘Fashion is Not Glamorous 101’. People don’t realize that being in fashion means dealing with rolling racks, hangers, steamers, heavy boxes and piles of clothes… it’s way more then red carpets, runways and celebs. You have to have a burning passion in order to enjoy it and be successful!