Alright guys here it is - the moment we've all been waiting for. Or at least just me.If you've been paying attention you may have noticed that: A.) I've been slightly absent and B.) Some secretive, exciting things were in the works there for a while. Well now is the time where those subtle hints are revealed and I'm happy to share with you my new line 16th Colony. Let me give you a bit of a backstory - I think a lot of you may know that I've been a designer in the fashion industry for a while. My experience has been full of ups and downs and the building of thick skin but let me start from the beginning...
Growing up as a kid I drew a lot - I knew I didn't want some desk job. In fact, at that point I actually wanted to be a cartoonist - I'd spend way too much time in classes doodling on anything and everything. At 13, I decided that I wanted to design my own Halloween costume - the perfect princess gown. My mom took me to the local fabric store and let me pick out whatever I wanted. After choosing the fabric and sketching out the idea that was in my head my mom had a friend sew my design. Looking back it's sort of funny because we did a few "fit sessions" before I was satisfied and the final product was complete. I was very proud of my creation.
To be honest, this didn't make me gauk over high end fashion designers or even become super picky with 'who I was wearing'. Even though I love fashion, I also had a lot of other interests still, like sketching and painting. So when I went to FIDM, I didn't really relate to the girls who were obsessed with some of these big name designers. I didn't have the time, nor the interest, to learn about every big fashionista out there - I was too busy focusing on my multi level interest in all things art, plus gaining the knowledge I needed to know to become a skillful designer. I felt sort of like an oddball. Until now... I've realized that having multiple interests allows me to focus on all of it and develop multiple skills - on top of my love for fashion, sketching and painting, I've now become fond of photography and film.
At 18, I really wanted to intern for an evening gown designer - I was given a shot at it by assisting at one of her fashion shows and from that point on she took me in and taught me so many things like fashion sketching, pattern-making and sewing. I was pretty lucky to have that experience because it made going to FIDM a lot easier - I had a leg up. After college I designed Juniors Denim and Outerwear for Anchor Blue - until they eventually had lay-offs and closed their doors. It was disheartening but I didn't sulk long and instead was determined to find another design job. It wasn't easy though, there weren't too many available considering the market at that time - so in order to keep my skills sharp, I designed and manufctured a super small collection that consisted of a few dresses and tops. I literally had my hands in it all - I drafted all the patterns, sewed each and every piece, built a basic website and even conducted a fun photoshoot with all of my friends. After all of that, I sold some of it in a local boutique. My pieces remained in the boutique for a few months and it was exciting, but more than anything it was really just a learning experience for what to do and not do when I launch a brand for real. During this time I was doing freelance design and then shortly after I landed a job as Lead Denim Designer for a jeans company in San Diego.
I designed for that denim company for almost a year until they too had to shut down. This was starting to get frustrating and I realized I didn't want to rely on big companies and their traditional ways anymore. So I stuck to freelancing and started Hanger Shortage as a creative outlet. In the meantime, I've spent nearly the last year developing what is now 16th Colony. Everything from the fabric sourcing, design and sketching, pattternmaking, more fabric sourcing, labels, casting models, and producing photo and video shoots. It's been super intense - especially since I'm doing Hanger Shortage, writing for Locale, creating vids for fashion brands and also freelancing. It hasn't been easy and sometimes I've felt burnt out, but honestly nothing beats working for yourself, so I wouldn't trade this for anything.
Anyway, in case you were wondering, the idea for the feel of 16th Colony came to me last Summer - I was wearing an old black and grey poncho that I've had for years with cut-off shorts and combat boots a lot. I really liked the way I felt in that outfit - to me, it encompassed a vibe that felt artistic and also carefree and it was perfect for the weather in Southern California. I knew then, that I wanted to create those types of pieces for this line - a brand that evokes that exact vibe.
At this point, I'm starting off small - the line simply features handmade ponchos at the moment, and there are currently 3 styles, but I'm really happy with how everything has come together. The product range will surely grow one day, but for now I'm at peace knowing that I have complete control over all of the steps involved in the process - nothing goes out the door or in front of the camera until I'm absolutely happy with it and I'm not tied to the traditional, rigid delivery schedule that most of the fashion industry is held to. And as a designer, there's not much more that you could ask for.
So roam around the new site a bit - I think visually, you'll see what I mean: 16th Colony