DESIGNING WITH PURPOSE
Profession- Designer / Business – Outerwear Designer
Title: Apparel Designer II/ Inclusion and Diversity Strategist
Brands designed for: Columbia Sportswear, Eddie Bauer
How long have you been in your profession? 8 years
Real talk- PRO’s vs CONS in your profession?
PROS: Soooooo many. Traveling, lifelong learning, problem solving, we are futurists! How fresh is that! Even if the tastemakers don’t vibe with our future ideas yet they can’t take them away from us. As designers we speak the language of the future, color and sound, we think like inventors and poets, it’s a beautiful and rewarding profession. To get paid to create gives me life.
CONS: I had no idea what a tightrope walk apparel design was when I chose it as a profession. Art and Commercial Business are in baked in to the foundation. Truth is, the majority of designers don't get to dictate what's fresh. We really need to see more diversity in the [apparel] design world to weed out the Homogony and get some diversity of though into the products we all put on our bodies. How do we get more women in the tastemaker’s position? More POC’s? How do we include more people in disadvantaged situations? And Individuals whose movements, who’s senses are limited. Homogenization of the [apparel] design industry isn't due to the fact that most people working in the field are white male, it's due to the fact that first and foremost it's a business that is set by a handful of tastemakers. Push the boundaries if you want but recognize that those who are in a position to push the boundaries of art and design are usually those who have been advantaged enough to do so, and again we continue this cycle.
Best moment in your career? As I type this. Right now. 2018. Hands down. I’m becoming increasingly more involved in racial equity work and infusing it with my design skills and background. This has by far been the most exhilarating time in my career, in my life. I always separated my equity and justice passions and my design work. Racial equity and social justice were something I did before and after work and designing apparel was something I did for my day job. I’m loving how this is defining my work as a designer and affecting change in my community. #Imgonnadoitagainandagainwontstopitcan'tstop.
Most challenging moment in your career? Second verse same as the first. Right now, is hella challenging. Being a champion for change in this space brings up so many things for me personally. Taking a seat as a teacher, feeling grounded, and having enough capacity that I am not pulling from an empty well is critical. The practice of letting go of what I want someone’s experiences to be, letting go of expectations requires constant care. What I offer as a designer, as a champion for D&I is a gift, and when we give someone a gift we cannot chose how someone receives it.
“If I wasn’t doing Apparel design I would be a performance street artist.
What advice can you offer potential designers? 1. Learn the business side of design, even if it’s just a little. Being able to jaw about ROI’s and profits will be invaluable, I promise you. No matter if you go on to start your own brand, or work for a corporation; Investors and a board of directors, the “tastemakers” can struggle to understand a creative vision, BUT if you can tell them how your design will increase revenue or reduce expenses…you golden. 2. Try not to be intimidated by what you don’t know. As designers we do things differently than a lot of people, and that can be your biggest strength.
Your thoughts on diversity and/or inclusivity in the design industry? We need a set of strategies. The design community, the individual contributors need to get together and talk multicultural initiatives. We gotta unionize in thought! How do we develop a set of strategies that promotes skill development to better manage the baked in power differentials in our industry? This is our house!
Favorite inspirational quote? Ok, this changes like every day I read something new, or go to a conference or sit down with a homeless kat on the bus...but right now my favorite quote is: “You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.” - Ursula K Guin