International, luxurious and sustainable- Three words to describe the collection of up and coming designer Sonya Vajifdar. Featured in this year's Los Angeles Fair Trade Fashion Show, Vajifdar showcased her latest collection "The Organic Bloom". Honoring the combination of Parisian and organic couture, the collection proved that sustainable fashion can be both achievable and luxurious. The traveling designer with a message, travels between various countries. Lucky for us the Indigo Stop was able to capture an alluring Q&A interview with her, where she discusses her past experience as a designer, what her brand stands for and more.
"I'm from Mumbai, India and studied fashion design at IED (Instituto Europio de Design) in Milan, Italy."
IS: What sparked your interest in fashion?
SV: In my childhood I used to read comic books like 'Archies', I used to draw Betty and Veronica and admire their dresses and redesign outfits for them. I believe my interest in designing started there.
IS: What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?
SV: I initially thought Fashion Marketing would be a more lucrative career path, and enrolled at IED for a Fashion Marketing course, but being in Milan the fashion capital of the world and seeing girls on the street in amazing clothes I immediately knew that my heart was drawn more towards designing than marketing.
IS: Are you self taught or did you study fashion design?
SV: I studied fashion and textile design for 3 years at IED, after which I interned with a French company called Estrelle. I then returned to India to work with an Indian designer.
IS: How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
SV: I started my label with designer raincoats all made out of plastic, going into couture gowns made of pure chiffon and silk. I recently completely rebranded my label into an eco-friendly and high fashion brand using only organic fibers and recycled materials. I now concentrate on finding unique and unconventional items to up-cycle and use in my garments.
IS: What is the inspiration behind your work and your collection?
SV: Inspiration can come from possibly anything from music, nature, photography, emotions and other designer silhouettes. I enjoy creating my own textiles so the idea of being able to use waste materials in my garments really pushed me to create a collection of eco couture garments.
IS: How is it like to start a brand in Los Angeles?
SV: This year my brand (SONYA VAJIFDAR) took part in the 3rd edition of the Fair Trade Fashion Show in LA and one of my garments was selected as the show stopper and I was consequently blogged about by fashion influencers after the event. My brand is now online for sale at Bead & Reel (www.beadandreel.com) as well as being displayed in a private showroom for celebrity stylists.
IS: How is your work received internationally?
SV: The brand is now available in stores in Los Angeles, New York, Dubai, London, Cape Town, Johannesburg and India. We are also constantly featured by bloggers worldwide. We have started a social media campaign called #knowyoursource to build awareness about sustainable fashion and we are so excited to have bloggers, fashion influencers and celebrities participating in this campaign.
IS: What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
SV: Recycling and protecting the planet.
IS: What advice would you give to young designers?
SV: I would advice all young designers to be persistent, to never give up on your vision, to take risks and go with your instincts. Fashion is an industry that will never get saturated and there is always place for innovative designers.
IS: What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
SV: To be available in many more stores internationally, to grow online sales and to make my mark in the fashion industry as an eco-couturier.
IS: Are you currently working on any big projects?
SV: Currently working on up-cycling soda cans and creating red carpet gowns out of them.
IS: What's your motto?
SV: #reuse #recycle #restyle
Rhinestones, lingerie and chokers- What more can a LA girl ask for? Luckily for us Ekaterina Gladysheva provides that and more with her brand GK Goldless. Sitting at a decorated restaurant in Koreatown called “Café Mak”, the designer told me her tales from Russia and her past designing experiences. Now placed in a new environment, Gladysheva is working on taking over the Los Angeles fashion scene as she did in Moscow.
From Russia with Style
Like every other stylish girl in the world, she enjoyed styling outfits for her Barbie doll. Her interest turned into a talent as her mom taught her how to sew. At the age of 8-years-old, her first client was her blonde haired, blue eyed Barbie doll. She always had an interest in fashion and continued being stylish and artistic.
“From her drawing s and fantasies she created her own brand,” Olga Gladysheva said.
“First she sewed clothing for her dolls, herself and then for photoshoots.”
In college, Gladysheva studied advertising and graphic designing. She then decided to change her career goal to focus on fashion. In order to graduate, she had to do diploma work. Her most notable clients were the musical group LMFAO. Now if anyone knows anything about these infamous party rockers, it is that their wardrobes are far from shy. Leopard print, neon and afros were fun; but, a little bit too loud for Gladysheva’s taste. She wanted to start designing stuff that was more of her style. Though she already knew that she wanted to start her own brand, she continued to work for other people including many producers. She loved the experience but, she was finally read to create her own line.
Her first self-made collection pieces were custom made chokers. She started off making and selling items for her friends and eventually the line grew from a hobby to a business.
“I remember looking at a Calvin Klein billboard and thinking I want to design something like that,” Gladysheva said.
“Blending luxury, lingerie and glamour, was my goal with creating my line”.
Inspired by the Calvin Klein billboard, Gladysheva had a fascination for combining luxury and lingerie. She began wearing her own pieces, until she received an offer from a showroom in Russia. The showroom offered to sell a few of her items including chokers and a high waist lingerie. After being a part of the showroom, she noticed the amount of love her line started to receive. She then decided to create an online store using the Big Cartel website. With the new website came advertising and social media opportunities. The business was going great in Moscow; but Gladysheva could not fight the urge that she wanted the business elsewhere.
Catching the LA Vibes
From watching American television and listening to American music, many international artists dream to take her talents to sunny Los Angeles. Moscow and Los Angeles are obviously two different cities but, according to Gladysheva, they have completely different visions of fashion, style and modesty.
“I appreciate the style and vibe of Los Angeles,” Gladysheva.
“In Moscow, you can’t show off your body and you need to be covered up all the time but, in LA everyone allows you to wear whatever you want.”
Luckily, this was not her first encounter to Los Angeles. She visited on separate occasions and her visit included staying a week in Downtown. Though it was crazy, the city made up for it with its’ weather, beaches and the hidden gems of the city like Old Town Pasadena.
New York was another U.S city that Gladysheva considered moving to but, the business of the city reminded her too much of Russia. She loved her hometown even though it was constantly surrounded with people who were very busy and ran completely on a schedule. Los Angeles fulfilled her love for both fashion and chill vibes.
Initially her parents were not on board with the move, like any other parent would be about moving internationally. After seeing, Gladysheva’s effort for the transition, they accepted the move and supported her dream.
Living in Los Angeles boosted the brand’s name in the independent fashion industry. With the new fame came networking, more opportunities and a large following.
“It feels great being in Los Angeles. I mean it is a lot of work but, it is worthwhile,” Gladysheva said.
“Every day I meet new people in the fashion industry and everyone is able to keep in touch and grow together.”
Moving to Los Angeles inspired both new pieces and a new name for the line, GK Goldless. The name came from a combination of her style and her initials. Her style also flourished in a town like Los Angeles, where it offers you to be you.
“I love that I am able to wear what I want to wear out here; and design what I want to design,” Gladysheva said.
The line’s collection includes sexy swimsuit and lingerie sets. Trimmed with the bands logo and strapped in various ways, the sets are the fan favorites of the line. Perfect for that California day and night.
Still creating various products also improved the brand’s Instagram page. Social media was a strong strategy to grow the following of the lingerie line. Tactics like having bloggers modeling the products and creating giveaways.
Her collection is still growing and glowing with the addition of pieces with rhinestones and fringe. With new additions in clothing articles comes a heavy amount of work, that is too much for the self-ran business.
“My current goal is to add more people are on the team and increase my following,” Gladysheva said.
Currently Gladysheva is networking in Los Angeles and building her brand one step at a time. What is next for the Russian beauty? Building a fashion empire of course. First Moscow, now Los Angeles and next the world.
With the popularity of Instagram, many online boutiques were able to transition from an independent brand to a brick and mortar store. One of the e-Commerce brands that rose to the fashion scene is People's Project LA. Seeing a pattern within the industry of expensive clothing that is only affordable for an A-list crowd, Patty Park created the PPLA. This week's On the Rise comes with a twist. Due to Park's interest in sticking to the background of the brand, we were able to only get a couple of details from the leading lady herself about her previous fashion experiences and upcoming projects.
Patty Park was born to Korean immigrants who both worked in the garment industry. You can say that fashion was in Park's genes. Workers in the garment industry were able to learn about the concept of fast fashion and international trading when it comes to garments, things that control the fashion world. According to Park, her growing fascination with fashion drove her to join the family business. In high school, she began working with her father, thus gaining hands on experience within the garment industry. In the job she was able to gain exposure with the textile and manufacturing business. She also learned about sales and operations.
Luckily for her the training paid off as she began training to work for the wholesale apparel industry. She also had several positions at the luxury line BCBG Max Azria. For seven years, she held several positions within the company including fabric buyer and director of sales.
"After honing her skills for seven years at BCBG Max Azria, Park went on to help revamp Mandy Moore's clothing line," Lisa Khiev, People's Project LA's office coordinator, said.
Park made revamping companies a hobby as she gained a title as the Director of Sales. In this position she build strategies, oversaw showrooms and worked closely with designers and manufacturers. She decided to take her skills within her own hands by becoming her own boss. In 2009, she co-founded and became the CEO of the 2.0 Agency. The company offered buying services, trend forecasting, and shipping services to retailers, from nationwide department stores to intimate boutiques. After she opened her own agency, the Patty Park Agency, which focuses on distribution, purchasing, branding and marketing.
It was always Park's dreams to start her own clothing line but after years of sales, CEO positions and inquiries from her business partners she started the People's Project Los Angeles in 2014. This brand was created to be different from your typical Los Angeles clothing line by having a message beyond the brand.
"People's Project LA is inspired by the Los Angeles Native, and designed with strong women in mind, Park said.
Even though the brand's mission statement is simply restated, Park focuses on her hometown brand and recognizes the area and type of women it holds. The brand targets the free spirited movement that empowers women to look as good as they should feel.
Pieces from the clothing line includes: various bohemian styled dresses, kimonos and more soft clothing.
Finding success through utilizing social media tactics, the brand was able to expand. In February 2016, Park opened the first PPLA shop in Century City. The flagship helped the brand an ever larger audience and fan base on social media outlets like Instagram.
" I visited the store the other day and I fell in love," said Catherine Chang.
" I stumbled upon he store by accident and it had super cute clothing and great vibes. I also became a fan of the brand because I am learning to support local businesses."
The brands growth caused new collections and upcoming projects. The first being the addition of the youth's line. Targeting girl tweens with interest in bohemian style and free spirited clothing. The latest addition to the line is the spring collection titled Wild Whisper.
"Wild Whisper was our first collection introducing our brand moving into a more contemporary, chic direction as we were initially known for our boho-chic style," Khiev said.
"This is mainly because we realized the "boho" style is something more of a trend and going in a contemporary direction offers a more versatile style for the everyday women."
Parks ultimate goal for the brand is to offer a place for Los Angeles to join the People's Project movement of empowerment and expressing individuality.
Los Angeles is known for our effortless style, our adventurous ways and our forever changing lifestyle. Through everything us Angelenos endure, we do it with style and FLAIR. Like designer Mire Yang. Breaking off into the fashion industry is a daring adventure however, doing it completely ethically is another journey within itself. Almost giving up on her journey, Yang remembered looking at a magazine that jumpstarted her career in the first place. Now she continues designing her line “Flair the Label” with consistency, durability and style.
During grade school, Yang attended private schools and was forced to wear uniforms years. Jumping into high school, for the first time ever her creativity with fashion flourished. Having the option to choose her own outfit on a daily basis allowed Yang to figure out her love and talent for fashion and art.
As her high school career was coming to an end, she considered her future and college career. She was settled on going to Stanford to become a lawyer, under her family’s direction; but, after joining an after school art program she decided to go for an artistic change.
“I remember being in an afterschool art program and picking up a magazine with a girl wearing a chiffon dress,” Yang said.
“After that it hit me really hard, I wanted to go into fashion.”
Originally her family was not on board with her career switch specifically because of their cultural beliefs when it comes to careers. According to Yang, within the Asian culture is thought that if you did art, you are not smart. The idea was to be involved in the medical, business or political career. With this chip on her shoulder, she had to prove her mom wrong by building a strong art portfolio before senior year. Her mom balanced being a single parent and working for a textile company. Having ties into the fashion industry and working effort to supply for her child, Yang’s mom is her ultimate style inspiration and role model. She admired her mom’s style and ability to be involved in her life and support her dream in fashion.
During that time, Yang learned how to balance school and art with a high GPA, pleasing her mom and earning her support for her fashion agenda.
With her newly founded skills, she was able to apply and be accepted in to Parsons: Fashion, Art and Design School and OTIS: College of Art and Design.
Yang decided to stay in Los Angeles and attend OTIS for design school. For the first year, the program at OTIS focuses on the foundation of art. In the second year, students had to choose their major, learn how to sew, make patterns, illustration and learn textile 101. In four years, Yang graduated OTIS with her bachelors in Fashion Design. Though happily with a new degree on her belt, Yang’s move to the real world of fashion was not so smoothly.
“OTIS gave me a great start and trained me well for the real world,” Yang said.
“I definetly learned that study is not everything. You have to go into the real world and be a part of different internships to be prepared fully for this industry.”
Industry Woes to Fashion Goals
From graduation to internships, Yang jumped into Jobber, which is the wholesale manufacturing industry. Yang became a designer at a manufacture company for a fast fashion brand. There she did not sketch for months but, worked on assisting the designer with swatches and paperwork. Knowing that her position was not going anywhere until the next five to seven years, she decided to move to another company that specialized in garment dying. The different fashion companies helped Yang gain new techniques within the fashion world.
For a new company, she was promoted as a head designer for a company ran by only four people. In this company she learned about production and sales. Sadly, the company had to close due to the low staff and struggles with the industry.
She was happy with what she gained, she questioned her position in the industry. She decided to take time off and start working with kids. She liked it but, she always remembered that magazine she fell in love with. She remembered that she wanted to make dresses and continue to design clothes that she loves, not fast fashion.
Yang got back into the industry by helping her mom in the textile industry and with manufacture companies. Here, she learned more about production with international factories. These factories and manufacture companies designed and produced what is known as fast-fashion.Unfortunately the manufacture companies did not treat the designers with respect and did not give the designers creative freedom.
Working back at the Jobber industry, Mire realized how clothing and design was treated without respect and was just mass produced without having quality in in mind.
With this resolution, she realized that she wanted to go into designing an independent brand that goes her way.
“My goal was to just design beautiful dresses at beautiful prices,” Yang said.
Yang’s first step to her collection was building a team. Already in her corner was her mom and her connections to fabric companies and manufacturers, but with a brand comes various task such as: marketing, distribution, management and production. Understanding the obstacles, it takes to be a designer, she also wanted her industry to be ran by a team she can handle and give everything back too. She wanted a team that was good, stable and loved going into work.
“In the fashion industry, designers have to be workaholics in order to survive in this industry,” Yang said.
The first member of her team was adding Eric Jess to the team as her freelance social media manager.
“After watching Mire start her line Flair the Label, I’ve seen what it takes to launch a label and all the gritty parts that you’d never imagine,” Jess said.
“The highs and lows are a real thing but I’ve also seen how rewarding the journey has been.”
She focused on social media completely last year; however, she learned about advertising as a black hole and only a stepping stone to the industry. By producing great content and quality work, Flair the Label was able to gain a large following.
Quality Over Quantity
“Flair the Label” is manufactured ethically and with high quality fabric thanks to Yang and her mom’s connections to Korea and China. The quality of clothing is also comfortable and durable. Yang defines the brand’s style as feminine, effortless and made with love. Usually mistaken as a bohemian themed, Yang does not mind the comparison with laid back clothing for the everyday girl. She also loves to recreate classic pieces usually using florals and vintage pieces.
Starting a brand is always a difficulty, but Yang has proved to both her friends and family that she is capable of handling everything coming her way.
“I have seen her developing flair from the beginning and the progression of the brand has grown a lot,” friend and Otis classmate, Michelle Chan said.
“She offers everything from the perfect dress for day to night including pieces you can feel confident in as well. She caters to a girl who is versatile in style and personality.”
Currently, Yang is grateful for how far the “Flair the Label” has come and the month they have had. This month included various photoshoots, look books and more. She is continuing to create clothing without forgetting quality over quantity. She is also working on new pieces that are going to be vintage and a little bit of a Wanderlust pieces with their same aesthetic. With the brand’s growth, adding a full staff seems to be Yang’s latest concern.
"My ultimate goal is just to create a stable company, in other words a home for creative people in fashion. I want to work with great creative people, in a new beautiful office and take care of the people I work with," Yang said.
With only a short amount of time of designing, Mire Yang has for sure made her mark within the Los Angeles independent fashion industry. Though Yang is not neccasirly sure what is her next success or move within the industry, rest assured: She’ll do it with FLAIR.
Being in front of the camera with editorials and other photoshoots, Porscha Woodard gained an interest in being both the muse and the designer. With her passion for fashion and heavy resume within the industry, this self-taught business woman shifted from a model to a lingerie designer. Her self-titled collection Porscha Starr, has been featured in music videos, photoshoots and television. Now it is a heavy contender for lingerie empires like Fredrick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret.
Around five-years-old, Woodard had the eye for fashion. She enjoyed playing dress up with her mom’s clothes and chose outfits for her dolls. Though she took an interest in her mom’s outfits, she gives credit to her grandma for inspiring her fashion sense. Covered in fur coats and extravagant accessories, Woodard’s grandma inspired her love for fashion and eye for luxurious pieces.
Her fashion career continued in 2011, when she became a model. Her work included modeling for print, music videos and walking in runway shows. Though she loved the experience she saw it as a hobby that she gets paid to do.
“All of the sudden, I realized I did not want to be in front of the camera anymore,” Woodard said.
“I wanted to be behind the camera and work with the business side of fashion.”
With this realization she decided to start her own fashion line. Her first step was to decide what line of fashion she wanted to go into and how to do it.
Self- Made Businesswoman
The fashion industry is built by a collaboration of artists including models, designers, creative directors and more. It is no surprise that models are taking their talents to the creative teams behind the outfits. From the fabulous model Kimora Lee Simmon’s shift to designer and creative director to the iconic Iman’s move as a curator for an accessory and jewelry line; Models are immersing in all forms of the industry.
After modeling for a few years, Woodard was interested in starting her own clothing line. Most people would come into the industry with hesitation to start off their journey in the industry. Woodard on the other hand jumped right into it. Her first step was choosing a line of clothing to get into. After modeling for various shoots with the theme of lingerie, she developed the eye for spotting great sexy items.
“I always been a believer that sexy sales,” Woodard said.
“We live in a world that people looks as things sexy as hot. So I thought it was a good idea to go into selling lingerie, because they are always advertising sex on television, film and music videos.”
Besides the target audience, Woodard herself loves lingerie and been interest in it since she was young. She was obsessed with watching the lingerie fashion shows from Victoria’s Secret and looking into the products of Fredrick’s Hollywood and Trashy Lingerie.
In order to start her business, she got into contact with wardrobe stylist for industry advice, after she went into wholesale. Wholesale is selling large quantities of products retailed and made by others. This is usually the first step for curators to make profit in the fashion industry, especially if they do not have experience with designing and sewing. She opened her own showroom in Downtown Los Angeles, and started studying business at Liberty University. She took the course online but, learned even more being in the real world. While working in her showroom she had hands on experience with the industry that students do not really get the chance to see within a classroom.
With her showroom, Woodard was prepared for the industry even before her fashion journey started. She went from wholesaling and retailing to creating her own lingerie collection.
She hired a team of designers from FIDM in Downtown Los Angeles. The fashion school allows people from the fashion industry to post jobs and internships on their career board. Woodard did so and ended up hiring FIDM alumni costume designers, photographers, and professional models from Model mayhem. She also found stylists from the industry that she previously met as a model. She went through several different pattern makers and designers however; it was a struggle to find a solid team. Her new designer squad became a unit and the team moved as one.
“The hardest part was to build a solid team to believe in my vision and bring it to real life,” Woodard said.
Being involved in the industry, Woodard networked with carious people within the industry. Even she agrees that modeling made it easier to shift her career into business mode. With networking handled and a solid team built, Porscha Starr shined throughout the industry and is growing day by day, along with Woodard’s growing industry.
Mixing Business & Motherhood
Porscha Starr is growing with an effective team and beautiful lingerie for various occasions. Not only does Woodard want to focus on the branding she also cares deeply for the products she is selling.
“One of the main things I focus on with designing lingerie is comfort,” Woodard said.
“I want the girl who wears my clothing to not only feel sexy; but, to also get her money’s worth in the outfit she loves.”
Woodard herself is a huge fan of lingerie and appreciated how it makes her feel. To her it is the closest thing to comfortability because it is the one thing a woman can wear and be almost naked without being naked. Like swimwear, she feels that wearing less makes women feel like a million bucks and it gives women a certain amount of confidence.
Her brand designs lingerie that is perfect for under garments and sex appeal. The brand features a complete line of lingerie, costumes, club wear, hosiery and leather. The brand is growing and being featured in music videos, showrooms, editorial shoots and more.
“Her style is daring and creative,” photographer Arthur St. John said.
“ She is not afraid to experiment and thinks outside the box. I loved working with her.”
When she is not working on the brand, she is also tangling her time to her family’s business. She recently moved back to California, to manage her little brother’s music career and video shoots. She also is focusing on her one-year old daughter’s growing brand. Little Isis Chanel Chambers, Woodard’s daughter and new business partner is following her mother’s footsteps. This one year is juggling a career as a model, gymnast, dancer and fashionista. Every day is something going on for this business and family woman. Though frightening for most, Woodard loves the thrill of juggling three businesses.
“I think its I always had a crazy drive and I always want to do stuff,” Woodard said.
“I love being involved in all of the things I am working on and my daughter is the person that keeps me motivated and continuing to do better.”
Currently, Woodard is trying to work on the brand an increase the publicity of the lingerie line. They plan on working with style house for more styling shoots and music videos movies commercials.
“I would like to be in the competition with Victoria’s Secret,” Woodard said.
“I also want more people and more awareness of the brand. Overall I just want everything on a bigger scale from shoots to sales, more everything.”
Having lunch one day at Panda Express, Rochelle Carino questioned her career as a fashion designer. Feeling lost in the industry, she was at a place where she almost decided that she did not want to do this anymore. While on the phone with her husband expressing her concern for her career, Carino opened a fortune cookie and the rest was history.
Taught by her mom when she was younger, Carino mastered sewing and making outfits for her dolls. She would use old clothes, cut them up and make her own design wear. Her skills eventually elevated to sewing alterations and buttons for her mom.
Her mom’s experience with design was limited, because the real designer of the family was her mom’s sister. Carino’s aunt was a tailor back in the Philippines and was extremely close to her mom. Sadly, Rochelle and her design influencer were never able to meet one another.
“She passed away before I was born,” Carino said.
“Though an unfortunate situation, it made my mom want to express fashion designing more because it was a bonding thing between my mom and I.”
As Carino got older, she put her design career on hold for another passion, dancing. Though designing was no longer her first love she still had an attraction to it because it brought her and her mom closer.
“Fashion is definitely something my mom and I bond over,” Carino said.
“Even to this day, my mom lives in Vegas and I always call her for fashion advice.”
Detour to Designing
Carino transitioned to a dancer, and fell in love with her dancing career.
She danced professionally for two years, and saw a future within this passion. Unfortunately, it came to an end when she got a really injury.
“After my injury, my friends recommended that I get into designing because of my talents in sewing,” Carino said.
“At first I was nervous, sewing was only a hobby for me. But, after I enrolled in designing school I fell in love with designing all over again.”
Enrolling at Los Angeles Trade Tech, was one of Carino’s favorite designing experiences. The two-year program taught about technical styling, sketching, draping and designing elements. The process was five days a week, six hours a day and two years of intensity. Trade tech taught on both the technical side and design sign of fashion. They also taught the business of fashion history, technical, costuming, computer skills and buying and merchandising. The classes also made Carino feel confident as a designer.
After two years of studying, Carino graduated in 2005 with experience in both styling and designing. Her first fashion job was at an Italian leather jacket company. Her next position was as an associate fashion designer for Ruby Rox. Though Carino liked the position, the company did budget cutbacks and turned the position to an internship to save money. She then decided to dabble with stylist consulting at Saks Fifth Avenue Beverly Hills. After working for various companies she realized that she wanted to work for herself. For a while, Carino struggled to find a position because of the recession and down hiring of designers. Luckily for Carino, she had skills in both designing and styling, and became a freelance stylist.
to Self-Titled Collection
The Los Angeles fashion scene is inspiring but sometimes damaging. Designers in the industry are gifted, talented and hardworking. However, many times they do not get the credit that they all deserve. There are not a lot of designers anymore that focuses on the crafting and art of fashion. Now anyone with a name in the social media or industry can immediately start a brand without any type of education or recollection of the fashion industry.
After the gap between jobs, Carino began to doubt her fit in the industry. Working for someone else was no longer an option and she was questioning what was her next step at the everyday restaurant, Panda Express.
“While I was on the phone with my husband, I was telling him about my distress for the industry,” Carino said.
“That same time I opened a fortune cookie.”
The fortune cookie said "take that chance you've been considering".
The calling went off like a light bulb in her head and her excitement for her message startled Chris ONeill, her husband. However, he went along with her dream.
According to ONeill, being married to a fashion designer is a constant adventure where everyday happenings can turn into something amazing and sometimes shaky.
“It's exhilarating because there are deadlines, clients, pop up shops, fashion shows, a parade of new people constantly coming into orbit who could be anything from an awesome model with a great sense of humor and no self-consciousness to a magazine editor considering her designs for an editorial,” ONeill said.
“It never ends.”
This motivated her to start her own self-titled collection in 2011. Her independent line and her designer skills were invited to assist the New York Fashion Week. She put together an Indiegogo campaign to raise money, to go to New York for the first time.
After the cookie, everything fell in place for Carino. She enjoyed her time in the Big Apple and the fashion kept her in awe.
“It is a different kind of vibe for fashion in New York then there is in Los Angeles,” Carino said.
“I love Los Angeles but, New York respects the artwork more and Los Angeles focuses on who is wearing what.”
After receiving a great response from New York, she quit her day job and continued to freelance as both a full time designer and stylist. Each position helped one another.
As a stylist she was able to include her own collection into various photoshoots and campaigns.
The “Rochelle Carino” collection is known for its young, flirty and feminine style. Many critics had referred to the line being too young however, Carino is proud of her collection and believes that “you’re never too old to play dress up.” The collection consists boldly printed dresses, stylish two-pieces, edgy jackets and more.
“If you want something fun and unique, that’s what my brand is for,” Carino said.
“That’s just me, I would wear sequins through the day and not a blink an eye. My friends and I wear what we want and it makes us happy.”
Her personality is one of the hugest inspirations for her collection: girly, sweet and fun. Even during her work, she encourages her models to keep the same spirit of the collection on the runway.
“I remember the first time I walked in a runway show for Rochelle, she told us (the models) to smile,” Nikiya Palombi, model and friend, said.
Palombi met Carino two and a half years ago when she was modeling for the look book’s photo shoot. They collaborated on many projects before but since walking for Carino’s show on Los Angeles Fashion Week they have been friends ever since.
“She said she wanted us to look happy and alive and that we should enjoy ourselves on the runway. I remember thinking "I freaking love this woman".”
Carino believes in creating clothing that brings the confidence out of a woman. Her clothing is also made to show the shine that is within a woman through her clothing.
Palombi’s closet is covered with original pieces from Carino made ethically with heart, passion and women hood. She loves wearing Carino’s affordable and unique clothing pieces with unicorns, glitter and the most comfortable bomber jackets she has ever encountered.
“I'm a girl that likes Star Wars and unicorns,” Palombi said.
“ Sometimes I want to wear black and kick some ass and other times I want to wear a tutu skirt and glitter. I feel like Rochelle's brand is about embracing your own weirdness and having fun with that.”
As her line increased so did her resume. Her work was featured in British Vogue as an emerging artist, Teen Vogue, Bullet Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine and People Magazine. She also participated in the Los Angeles and London Fashion Week. Her styling career has also been successful by styling women for various red carpets, editorials, videos and ad campaigns.
Currently, Carino is working, planning big things and loving life. Participating in this year’s award season, Carino worked on stylings from the Golden Globes, Sag Awards and the Oscars. She also has been putting together various pop up shops and is working on top secret commercial custom pieces.
For the future of her collection, Carino wants to open more boutiques to get her brand out there. especially in New York. She also wants to create campaigns to call awareness to local brands.
“Sometimes, she is so overly modest, she doesn't believe a lot of potential opportunities that arise are all down to her; but, they are,” ONeill said.
“ One can be the most talented designer in the whole world, but one has to let the world know that you design.And for me, honestly, the world is far brighter, happier, more colorful and wonderful because of Rochelle Carino- the designer and the woman herself.”
Advice for the Fashion Industry
Being a seasoned designer in the city she loves, Los Angeles, has made her both wise and accepting to learn new things about the Los Angeles fashion scene. She is currently loving the industry she is in and is completely happy with her work. When receiving critique for her brand’s youthfulness, she almost considered changing her brand’s style. Luckily, she continued her vision and learned valuable lessons along the way.
The first advice Carino would give to designers is to be a nice person. Carino is known for her fun energy and admired for work ethic and love for fashion. One of those admirers is ONeill.
“As for her work ethic, she works harder than anyone I've ever met and I don't know how,” ONeill said.
“She could be up until 4am working on a piece, altering, making changes, adding flair and style and then be up at 6 or 7am to pack up the car and race off to a job or a pop up shop. And she goes through the day with a big infectious smile and genuine enthusiasm which is contagious.”
Carino’s second advice is to to not get caught up in who is who or what is the hottest trend.
“The spotlight is for five minutes. If you only do it just for that, you will not last long in the business,” Carino said.
Chasing the same thing is how people fall in the industry, Carino has stuck to her guns and is continuing to shine as much as the women who wear her clothing.
“ Now, I do what I feel is right for my brand,” Carino said.
“I don’t consider it work anymore. I can keep going, regardless of the rejection, because it is still fun.”
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Taking on the fashion world visually is a role that Justice Piggue already acquired as a photographer. Following the careers of other renowned photographers, Piggue decided to reimagine her career, this time as a fashion designer. Designers are challenged with the brutal honesty, as well as the dishonesty of the industry. Piggue learned that it takes a team that is both “Humble and Hungry” to achieve whatever they put their mind to.
With California origins, Piggue was already aware of her artistic dreams in the bright lights, big city. In Las Vegas, Piggue had a growing career as a photographer. Working with various muses such as fashion, music and artists helped inspire her passion for other fields.
“It was out of nowhere that I decided I wanted to have my own clothing line,” Piggue said.
Being a photographer helped widened Piggue’s visual talents and increased her skills needed for her own brand. Her next step was researching ways to create her own brand and she realized she needed a helping hand.
Nalani Carter, Piggue’s friend and business partner, is the second in command of “Humble and Hungry”. While maintaining her grades and finishing school, Piggue approached her with the idea of starting their brand after coming up with the idea.
“At first I thought it was just an idea,” Carter said.
“After she showed me the photos of the brand and we started visiting designers it all hit me.”
Even though, the idea came from nowhere, both Piggue and Carter had dabbled a little into the fashion world. Both have been told consistently that they had great style and Piggue participated in one high school fashion class.
The idea was there but Piggue soon found out, that she needed more than a vision and trust worthy partner to create a clothing brand.
“As I was getting more information about starting a brand, I realized that creating a brand is not a one man job,” Piggue said.
“If you want a successful brand you need more than one person.”
Building A Team
Fashion is typically a hard career to handle alone. One person cannot stand the stress of designing a line, marketing it, purchasing it and etc. It is rarely completely run by a single individual. Of course one individual can have the idea, it takes a team of graphic designers, salespeople and marketers to further that vision. Finding creatively talented people is a hassle, but it can be accomplished. The difficult part is building a team with people you can trust.
Luckily for Piggue, she found that person in Carter, her girlfriend.
“For me it was like creating a business partnership with someone I trusted, out of anyone in this world I trusted her the most”, Piggue said.
Piggue presented the idea to Carter by showing her visuals and ideas of the collection. Carter participated by finding graphic designers that can turn their dreams to real life. Building a brand with a partner is usually not easy but both Pigue and Carter utilized what they called-a collaboration factor.
“The idea of this factor is networking with other people”, Piggue said.
“Even though we know the same people, everyday we interact with different kinds of people who can support our brand.
In the process of looking for a designer, the duo met Rick Juego. Juego was previously a designer for well known brands such Diamond Supply and Crooks & Castles.
As time went by the team grew with various designers and followers for the brand. One of the brand’s followers includes Piggue’s assistant, Angel Gutierrez. Gutierrez has been Piggue’s photography assistant for two and a half years and has contributed to viewing the behind the scene process of the brand.
“I love the brand humble and hungry because it was brought upon hard work and dedication”, Gutierez said.
“Her brand also speaks a lot about her, not only is she a humble and respected person but she's also a hungry, hard working and goes for her dream type of person.
“Humble & Hungry”
“Seven months ago at my grandma’s house, I came up with the name of the brand,” Piggue said.
“After what I went through with this brand, I realized that I had to be hungry to achieve and humble at the same time.”
Popular street wear brands struggle to find the wow factor incomparable to other brands. Other brand’s niche relates to vintage, throwback, skater and hip hop culture. The brand focuses on the grind to get to the top, and their model of being both humble and hungry. The duo’s current goal is to continue to spread their motto and inspire the message throughout the youth.
The current pieces of the brand are the Humble & Hungry Signature shirt and jacket. Both pieces of the introductory collection showcase the brand’s logo with various symbols representing the brand such as a lion and a money bag.
As time goes by the brand’s collection will continue to add new pieces based off of the brand’s response. So far, the windbreakers and shirts have been a fan favorite and are continuously selling out. Though Piggue wants to continue the streetwear style of the brand, in the future, she wants to switch it up by adding various pieces like cardigans.
Their future endeavors include spreading as far as they can possibly can. After stealing the scene in Nevada, the ultimate goal is to grow and progress. They want to progress by doing pop up shops in popular areas, joining local fashion shows and interviewing with blogs. Currently the brand is rising in Los Angeles and Piggue is continuing building her brand with the concepts of loyalty, humble and hungry.
“The ultimate tip is to make sure your team is trustworthy and loyal,” Piggue said.
“Also continue to never give up and achieve everything you put your mind to.
In the world of fashion, it is beyond difficult to gain notoriety. Designers start from the bottom hauling fashion showrooms and grabbing coffee for their fellow associates. They also work day in and out on designing expensive wardrobe to be awed by people of all kinds. The struggle of the young fashion designer’s rise to the top is astonishing and inspiring. My goal is to tell the story of designer’s experiences and how they plan to succeed. I also want to focus on the Los Angeles area. Downtown Los Angeles is home to over 1,200 showrooms representing over 4,500 lines. Each blog post, I will profile an up and coming designers in the Los Angeles area. Each blog post, I will profile an up and coming designers in the Los Angeles area. I will first research about their humble beginnings in the fashion world. This includes their realization for their love of fashion, their education and previous internships.
I will profile their…
If interested in being a featured designer, please fill out the contact form and title the subject, “OTR: LA Inquiry”.
Quitting your job, packing your bags and moving to California may seem like the most impossible thing someone can do however, Londyn Douglas accomplished that and more in a short amount of time. Her fashion career started as a daring thrifter to a styling guru, and now she is making her mark as the curator for “The Club.”
She Got It from Her Mama
Washington D.C offered politics, while Londyn Douglas craved fashion. For years in D.C, she expressed her fashion sense through crazy clothes and vintage finds unlike no other. She was even voted the most creative in high school. Inspired by her mother’s fashion sense, Douglas developed a love for fashion at a young age and carried on her creativity.
“Seeing my mom pick an outfit in the morning for work was one of my favorite things,” Douglas said. “I was in awe with her look and her closet.”
Waking up every morning, Douglas would watch her mom pick her look: from her outfits to her heels. This was her first encounter with fashion.
“I knew when I grew up that I wanted to be just like my mom,” Douglas said. “I wanted to have the whole package: a woman who acts, talks and looks well.”
Not only did she develop her sense, but she also gained the eye for fashion from her mother. Though they do not have the same style, they both shared the love of shopping and finding great fashion deals.
One day while thrifting in high school, she found these amazing pair of blue suede shoes. At that moment she had a fashion epiphany.
“I realized that I had a good eye for finding pieces and that I wanted to help others find great vintage pieces as well,” Douglas said.
California, Here She Comes
Having a stable job as a member service manager for a non-profit organization, did not sit well for Douglas. As she continued heightening her career, her love for fashion was always calling her back. A visit to a friend in California was the first step to determining her change of career. After falling in love with the weather and fashion, she took the next step by saving money, quitting her job and moving to California with her family’s full support.
Her first positions in California were as a buyer for Ross and working for an accounting firm. Carrying a degree in business and marketing, Douglas was tired of working with numbers and logistics. Surrounded by clothes she could not play with, made her unsatisfied once again. Then she took a chance with a Los Angeles fashion business class at the School of Style. Monica Rose, the Kardashian stylist, was the guest speaker for the introduction to styling class. In the class, she learned about Ecommerce, styling for certain occasions and marketing.
After taking only one class she bonded with the founders of the class, Luke Story and Lauren Messiah, who came from her hometown. They offered her a styling internship and position as a customer service and graduate relations manager. Her first styling job was Randy Jackson’s musical talent; she fell in love with the position and wanted to go to the next level.
“From then I continued juggling both the internship and my job,” Douglas said.
“However, I decided I wanted to go full force in this job. So I saved all my rent money for the year and quitted my accounting job.”
The more involved she became in the styling school, the more opportunities came her way.
While editing job postings on the school’s graduate relation page, she spotted a Vogue internship to work with Leslie Lessin as her styling intern. Her first gig was with legendary photographer Michael Comte, who has shot for Vogue Italia, Vanity Fair and more. She applied for the position and got accepted to more and more styling roles after impressing Lesson.
“From then on I started getting clients from her and others who worked with me,” Douglas said. “Once you’re in the industry and do a great job, word spreads.”
Styling was fun but, bills had to be paid. Douglas combined her knowledge of business, fashion and vintage finds to create “The Club” an online vintage boutique with the motto “cool vintage for cool babes.”
From the start, Douglas knew she wanted to have her own vintage boutique like the Melrose and Silver Lake markets. With her knowledge of business, she created her own online boutique with a message of women empowerment and black girl magic.
“I designed my collection for all cool girls doing cool things to wear,” Douglas said.
“I also slid in a message within my line. Both of the models are black women doing something awesome like a ballerina and a writer.”
,A brand with layers, “The Club” is not your typical Los Angeles brand. Offering vintage pieces is a really hard find in Los Angeles, unless you are a daring thrifter. Douglas utilized her fashion super powers to help girls find their vintage love at first sight. Her first collection, the Carry-Out, was also created with a sprinkle of Douglas’ heritage and homage to carryout meals.
“I am a quarter Japanese and I wanted to create a line that touched on my Japanese roots,” Douglas said.
“I created the line and realized they all had an Asian vibe: from the Mandarin collars to the silky Chinese shirts. From then I named every item after a notable Asian dish like the Mumbo Sauce.
A dose of California and Spring Rolls are the best options on the menu for Douglas herself. Appreciating her custom vintage pieces, Douglas also utilized her statement pieces within her styling jobs. Her friends and family are once again supportive of her decision to take her fashion career to the next level.
“What I love most about her collection is the gems she finds and the history behind each,” Bryce Barnes, friend and designer said.
“Also, the styling of each piece, she knows how to enhance the modernity and make it now rather than dated.”
When asked for how far she wanted “The Club” to go, Douglas responded with, “As far as it can go; I have not limit at all.” With a spring revamping coming up, Douglas’ boutique will continue to spread throughout the Los Angeles area.
How to Start Your Own Brand?
Though a new brand, The Club is already turning heads with Douglas’ growing success as a freelance stylist in Los Angeles. Utilizing her many skills and education in fashion, Douglas is the epitome of a thriving businesswomen.
“Starting your own business takes major balls and drive,” Rachel Carraway, Douglas’ friend said. “She's got both.”
Here, Douglas shares her top three tips for launching a fashion brand.
1) Make a plan. The plan is the most important because you cannot just jump into it, Douglas said. “You need to know your audience, designs and if you don’t have a plan you’ll lose site on why you started in the first place.”
2) Talk to the people around you, who know you. Coming into the fashion industry, it is easy to lose yourself against the competition. Luckily the field is forever growing with people just like you trying to make their mark. Douglass learned that being surrounded by people as creative as her can help her greatly in this industry. “They can give you resources and feedback for your work”, Douglas said.
3) Find your resources through the internet. The biggest myth of fashion is the amount you have to put out in order to receive the fashion benefits. Douglas was able to achieve her dreams through networking and researching the many opportunities in Los Angeles.
“You do not need to spend all of your money for school”, Douglas said. “By looking up the styling class on the internet, I was able to make my mark and take the next level in the fashion industry.”
4) Starting and Going for it! “Talk is cheap, unless you go for it”, Douglas said. Craving her desire to work in the fashion industry, Douglas dropped everything and took the next step. Instead of sitting around contemplating over what ifs, she made her dream come true.