Even after I graduated from Parsons in 2012 and got a full time job, I still had so many ideas flowing to me from the work I had started there, it felt like a lifetimes' worth of things I wanted to see come into reality. After a year or so working in a 'real job', I quickly realized that I would never feel creatively fulfilled working for other people. I could never shake the feeling that life was not fully my own while working full time to make another business money. And the further I progressed through corporate fashion in the USA, the more my job became about project management, costing, budgeting, managing other people, and so far from all the ideas I wanted to realize with my own hands, which I knew were special and unique and personal to only me.
So I continued to create, I bought material, yarn, a nice big table and spent long evenings and spare moments sewing, embroidering, making. The work I had started at Parsons was about mixing techniques and textures and unexpected materials. Keeping it monotone so the luxurious hand-work would pop out and not be distracted by color. I would still probably make everything in white if I knew I could sell it! I spent my spare money on photoshoots and creating something I thought would just pick up. If I did the creative work - then that would be enough to launch a business... right...!? Haha.
Sadly the USA is a very difficult place to make your dreams come true. I almost had someone wanting to invest, but it all felt too stretched, and like maybe if I did things in the way I would need to do them in the USA, then I would still be using my creativity to make other people money. It felt like such a catch 22.
I am so proud of the work I did while I was in LA. While I was juggling a full time job, and a long commute. The need to create, to find a way to do things in my own way, the ideas that always keep flowing. I am so grateful for all of it. Even the long, hard lessons which led me to a place of more freedom, creativity, and doing things in a way I feel good about - which was always based in the knowledge that craft-based hand-work had the potential to change lives, and I knew there were some women out there who could benefit. Back then I didn’t know they were in Perú! But that’s the journey isn’t it!?
Looking back it is all so ‘meant to be’…
Every piece was handmade by me, and will not be re-created again. 🏼 truly unique designer pieces.
Once I started opening up to what life was showing me, and the directions it was offering me things started to change. But I had to be willing to let it all go before I could re-build. And I did fully re-build it in a totally different way, but one that does give me the freedom I crave, and allows me to do business in a way I feel really good about, in full control. I don't answer to anyone now, except our wonderful customers for whom I am so grateful for every time we make a sale.
The designs now are a lot more simple, straightforward and 'wearable'. And I am good with that. Maybe one day I will do another collection which takes months to make each piece. But for now, just a really great sweater is also fine.
All proceeds go to building the business here in Perú, which gives back to the local women by providing work, skills and training.
Photography in collaboration with Shannon Broyles-Beale at SBFactory.
Photographer: James Norton