I think its about time I finally write about my career journey, what brought me to where I am now. I’ve had a few readers and instagram followers ask the “how to’s” and “whats” to becoming a fashion designer.
The truth, first of all, is that there is no one single right path to where you want to be in this industry. I’ve met so many people along the way and not one story is the same. So what I am sharing here is just the path I took. I’m hoping it gives some insight, but never indicate that its how it should be done. After all, we are creative people right? And how creative would that be if we all had the same stories?!
My dad was scolding me to get off of the computer. Time was passing by while I was stuck in my own little world picking out colors and patterns for Barbie’s outfits on the runway. My aunt had bought me “Fashion Design Barbie” CD rom for the PC. Little did I know at 5 years old that I would be designing actual doll clothes amongst many other things 20 years later.
After several changes of career paths, from wanting to be Snow White, to a Doctor, to a Nurse, to an Artist, it wasn’t until I shopped an Abercrombie store that everything sort of started to fall in line for me. I know right, that basic store of a daunting moose and over-sprayed cologne was my inspiration?! I was from a small town, social media was still emerging, and I was in middle school when the trend of large logos were still relevant. Can you really blame me? I was gently picking up corners of tops and bottoms as I skimmed through the store and stopped at a white lace skirt. My mom was trailing behind and already knew why I stopped. Before I could say it, she read the look in my eyes and said to me “I can teach you to make that instead, it will be cheaper and nicer.” I’m always one for a bargain, especially when it looks nice (in case you didn’t know and you haven’t already seen my frugal fashionista website). I always knew my mom could sew, she made our clothes and costumes when we were tiny tots. I guess I had kind of forgotten and then never considered the fact that she could teach me.
We headed over to Joann Fabrics, she introduced the pattern books to me and we looked through them together to find one that resembled the mini skirt. Then we picked out a white fabric with tonal white mini florals. At home she cut out the pattern and began to walk me through the steps. We didn’t even read the instructions, we just constructed from her knowledge. With something as simple as a skirt though, the putting together of the pieces just made sense. Shapes would fit perfectly together and I could envision it. It was like a puzzle and you knew exactly how to put the pieces together. After completing the first skirt together I was so excited. I loved how the finished product looked, and it was definitely way better than what we had seen at AnF. In fact we designed it to be two tiered instead of the one. She was beautiful!
I wore her to school the next day and felt many eyes follow it. It was exhilarating and empowering. I just felt different, and in a good way.
Growing up in an asian household I had very strict parents, I was hardly ever out during the weekdays. But this time I was ok with it. I had found something to take up my time at home. I loved it so much it didn’t even bother me. The days in middle school and high school seemed so wasteful to me. Now let me say, I would never condone rebelling your high school years, but because I had fallen in love with something and knew what I was ready for, I was over the petty things that high school had to offer me so I had always looked forward to going home and starting a new project and pursuing my new found dream. I had a new outfit almost every week. Since that day I had learned from my mom, I got better at it. I practiced it, and dedicated myself to it. It was addicting, it was a rush. It became my voice, my identity, it made me stand out from everyone else. I had quickly ditched the AnF look and invented my own. My walls started to fill up with magazine tears from every issue of vogue I collected. The next creation of mine came from inspiration drawn from those tears. Every single one of my formal gowns after my freshman year was of my own design.
My frequented trips to Joann’s were like the trips an 8 year old takes to a candy store. I walked in there and felt like I had the whole world in my hands. I could have whatever I wanted. I mean literally, whatever I wanted I could make. Sort of anyway, at least thats how I felt. As I walked through isles I’d look at fabrics and see a dress, a skirt, a sundress, a sweetheart top and so on. I couldn’t stop, my ideas would run wild and I would become overwhelmed with them. My mom had quickly helped me turn it into a business. On ebay we would scour the “DIY dresses” and see what sold, then made our own versions that sold too. It was exciting to watch people buy your work. You knew that someone some where was going to the mall or to lunch or to a party in your creation. We continued it up until I began college.
Within this timing was my first trip to New York City. I was about 13 and though the sights were fun, I was more intrigued by the amount of resources available to a designer. Everything was there. This began my love for NYC and I knew that there would be no other city that would compare for me. The energy I felt within I felt there too. I knew I would return someday.
I graduated high school with my B average grades and a computer generated award of “best dressed” and booked it out of there. I was ready for whatever my future had in store for me, I had already visited the fashion schools of my choice. It wasn’t clear what my future had in store but I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like…I went after it, with no regrets, and no turning back.
-The Fashion School Graduate
look out for post 2
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have industry questions? need fashion tips? email me: firstname.lastname@example.org