1.Share with us your career profile. I grew up in a beach town in San Diego but wanted more for myself than wearing swim trunks and flip flops, so I moved to San Francisco and studied fashion while working as a stylist for Neiman Marcus. Soon after, I found myself in Los Angeles designing dresses for Tadashi and Dina Bar-El. After several years of this I gathered up the courage to head back to San Francisco (where I left my heart….) and launch my own label. Perhaps it’s because there aren’t as many designers in SF, but through graceful good fortune I showed in GEN Art and then went onto Project Runway, Season 8. From there, the pace of my life and career quickened.
2. What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
I love art, women, shapes, attitude, and a lasting impression. The whole lifestyle of fashion always intrigued me and one day in my early 20’s I realized I could make a career out of it.
3. What is your designing philosophy, what do you keep in mind while designing?
I’m thinking,…. Will she wear it????! A philosophy I hold onto is ‘if you feel good, you look good’. No matter what the occasion I’m designing for, making a woman feel beautiful, natural, and powerful are always in the forefront of my mind.
4. What is your brand all about?
My brand is about reaching the modern woman. It’s about tailoring, beauty, effortless elegance. It’s about being any shape or size and feeling stylish and positive about yourself.
5. How has your brand evolved over the years?
It’s evolved over the years as I’ve come to understand myself better. The designs just come out of me and it’s been over time that I’m able to see when and why people wear my line. That’s helped me reign in and target better what I’m meant to be doing- and the result is meant to be flattering and the look enhances who she is in a confident beautiful way. The pieces echo her spirit and mind.
6. Which markets are you currently catering to?
Women’s contemporary sportswear.
7. What would you call the ‘defining moment of your career’?
When I voluntarily left a good paying job designing for Tadashi… to carve my own way in this industry through my own vision.
8. The business cycle is not easy to endure. Can you name a Guru who guided you?
I’m not sure I have one ‘all knowing master’. Knowledge is always flowing from people and we all guide each other much more than we realize. It’s about being open to learn new ways when you’ve reached a new level. I think you should learn from others but at the end of the day listen to your heart and guide yourself.
9. How do you help men/women in the becoming torch bearers of fashion and style?
It happens by being positive and building her self esteem. Taking the perspective of pointing out the flattering silhouettes for her, versus calling out what doesn’t look good.
10. When you see your dresses looking good on an individual, how do you feel?
To this day I still can’t help myself but stare. I love to see the way the piece interacts with her life and how it looks when she moves. I feel honored she chose me to be a defining part of her day.
11. In case of an unsatisfactory customer, do you accept criticism; ever lose your temper?
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘the customer is always right’, right? I always accept criticism and do honestly want to know how I can continuously make my product better. But I don’t take it personally. Fashion is largely motivated by our geography, so if a tank top blows out in Florida but doesn’t sell at all in Alaska- you just have to accommodate the different needs for apparel demographics. And I NEVER lose my temper– the first designer I worked for was a screamer and I’m still scarred from that.
12. What thrills you?
People and travelling.
13. Your competitors in fashion, are they a threat?
Not at all,… and that’s not narcissism! As a testament to Project Runway; you could give 10 designers the same design goal with the same fabric- and we’d all make something completely different.
14. How do you see your work, five years from now?
I’m in the midst of big changes with my company right now. We have new amazing partners who are launching Christopher Collins to a global platform so I’d say 5 years from now- I see my work being SEEN by many more people!