Fashion Careers

The May 1 deadline for the 2015 Nordstrom Scholarship is right around the corner. That means you have just a few more weeks to pull together your application for a $10,000 college scholarship! Making your application stand out from the crowd can be tough, so we decided to get some tips from the experts, previous Nordstrom Scholarship recipients Tiara Jones and Hannah Yoo.

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Nordstrom Scholarship Winners Hannah Yoo and Tiara Jones

What made you want to apply to the Nordstrom Scholarship?

Hannah: I learned about the scholarship on the Nordstrom website. I was so happy to see the video of all those deserving people being rewarded for their service and hard work both in and out of school. The Nordstrom scholarship seemed like a great opportunity, but being selected as one of the 80 recipients out of thousands of applicants made me believe my chances were microscopic. But, as quoted in one of my favorite movies, “A Cinderella Story”: Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.

Why do you think your application stood out?

Tiara: I think my application stood out because of the details I was able to share about my involvement with community service organizations, the extracurricular activities I’ve participated in, and my academic achievements.

Hannah: Throughout the entire application and interview process, I wanted to be genuine. I wanted to accurately paint the picture of who I am as a person by sharing details about the activities I loved to participate in, as well as being extremely truthful and honest in my personal statement, which described my lowest as well as the highest points in my life.

What was the most memorable part of the application process?

Hannah: The whole journey was unbelievable. The interview was fun—I was eager to answer questions and even made them laugh as I reenacted the celebratory dance I did when I got the finalist notification email. The interview was definitely the most memorable part because I loved that I got an opportunity to show them who I am.

What tips do you have for students who are planning to apply for the Nordstrom scholarship?

Tiara: My first piece of advice would be to apply early so that you have more time to work on your essays, which are important since they’re a reflection of who you are as a student. Have an updated resume close by as you’re working on the application so you can include information about all the things you’ve done in your school and community. Lastly, it’s important to believe in yourself—you can do it!

Hannah: Don’t make excuses. Just apply! Take a chance. You’ll never know how absolutely perfect something could turn out to be. In fact, applying for this scholarship (writing a personal statement, interviewing and asking for recommendations) helped me a lot with my college application process. Even though this may seem a little clichéd, it’s true: be genuine and authentic. Write about something that you are passionate about. Show who you are. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be in my shoes, writing for the Nordstrom BP. blog and giving advice to hopeful Nordstrom scholars.

Tell us about your plans for college!

Tiara: I love fashion and design. I’m planning to attend the University of Cincinnati to study Fashion Design and Makeup/Wig Design.

Hannah: I plan on majoring in business and perhaps getting a minor in social entrepreneurship. I’m interested in a lot of subjects and activities, such as mathematics, writing, fashion, and different cultures and perspectives. I would love to pursue social entrepreneurship. No matter which college I end up at, I know I’ll have a lot of fun seizing opportunities, meeting new people and learning so much.

Want $10,000 of your own for college? Applications are due May 1. Learn more and get started!

Win $10,000 for college

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Lush Life

Recently, Bella and I had the opportunity to tour Lush Headquarters in Los Angeles. It was such an incredible experience (as well as eye opening) to learn about Lush Clothing. We spent a sunny day touring Lush Headquarters and experiencing an exciting work day at Lush.

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 It was so exciting seeing Bella after only meeting once in Seattle! After a delicious lunch with Bella and some of the girls from Lush, we headed over to Lush HQ.

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Bella and I were feeling quite glamorous in front of this Hollywood-style vanity as we snapped a quick photo.

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What I love most about Lush is their collection of beautiful, unique prints.

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Although the solids are nice, too. 😉

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 A rainbow of spools!

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The coolest part: We got to hear everything straight from Erica Kim herself, the creator of Lush. She gave Bella and I a tour, and generously shared the story of the brand,  as well as insights about how she achieved her success. How cool is her office?! I love the minimal black-and-white look with pop-of-green plants.

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Thank you again, Erica, for this amazing experience!

xo ॐ – Amber

 

 

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Not to brag or anything, but the Nordstrom video team does awesome work. Plus, they get to travel to glamorous cities, interview famous people, play with the choicest new stuff from the best brands. (Maybe we hate them a little for that? Clearly, they are better people than we are.) How in the world do you get that job?

We grabbed a few minutes with Angela, one of our lead videographers, to ask her how she got into the business, what she loves about her job and how YOU can become an Ace Fashion Videographer, too.

BP.: How did you get into fashion videography?

Angela: I’m very lucky. I studied architecture in school, knowing that my end goal was to be in the fashion industry in some capacity (at that time I wanted to be a clothing designer). There are basic design principles that are shared between architecture and fashion, so it didn’t seem like much of a stretch. Since I couldn’t study fashion at my school,  I had to go my own route.

My grandfather was an illustrator, so I knew I had the aptitude to understand and engage with a myriad of art mediums. Before leaving architecture, I developed skills, like managing projects from conception through actualization, that definitely help me do what I do now. I also made a bunch of building flythrough videos for the firm I worked for, and shot a few side projects that I just dreamt up.

After working at Nordstrom in the Designer Site Merchandising department, it was a natural next step for me to fill this role. Finally!!! I got to marry my business skills to my creative skills. Video is great for me because my architecture training helped me discover that I really enjoy working in three dimensions. So it’s nice to continue to think and design that way.

Angela Sumner, Ace Videographer

Angela, Ace Videographer

BP.: You’ve shot some really interesting people, especially for the Men’s Shop. Who was your favorite and why?

Angela: Everyone has been so so great—like I said, I’m very lucky! One of my favorites is definitely Gorgui Dieng of the Minnesota Timberwolves. We love him so much that we’ve shot him twice! We first met Gorgui when he was getting ready for draft night. We fitted him in two suits…the man is 6’11”, so you can imagine that it was quite a challenge. He was so inspiring to everyone on set. His story of how he got to where he is really left all of us feeling humbled by the experience. Sometimes I watch that video just for inspiration. I won’t forget that shoot as long as I live.

BP.: What’s the thing people would be most surprised to learn about your job?

Angela: I think people are most surprised to learn that it’s not as glamorous as they imagine. Sure, being on set with models is great—it really is—but everyone on set is working hard to get the best shot. Sometimes we work 16-hour days, and I work most weekends (mostly willingly). And when we’re not in the studio, that means we’re outside, and never in ideal weather conditions. But I love what I do. I love scouring my city, the Internet, magazines, old books, anything for inspiration to tell a story.

There’s also a lot of pressure to create something that resonates with the majority of our customers. But different from architecture, if we get it wrong on one video we can try again relatively quickly. That for me has been the best, being able to see my ideas come to life in less than a month. Who could ask for anything better? Instant gratification!

Goofing AroundGoofing around is an essential part of the job

BP.: How do you develop a concept for a video? 

Angela: Here at Nordstrom, we let our business needs drive our creative projects, meaning: what’s trending, what our customers are loving, what brands are doing something cool. For menswear, it’s really been about education, showing what we carry and how real guys are wearing it.

When I sit down to develop a concept I think about things in mainstream fashion that have caught my eye, then I think about what makes sense for the project. Certain filmmakers and fashion photographers will inspire me and that will influence the things I do in post–production.


What influences can you spot in this video?

BP.: How hard is it to then turn that concept into a finished product?

Angela: As far as getting from a concept to a finished product: It’s all about the team you assemble. This is my favorite part. I love to see how people bring their own sense of creativity to the project, and how they might interpret my vision.

Then it’s time to scout a location. Where is this story best told? I like to work closely with the stylist during this part, because I like his/her input on the clothing and how it relates to the scene.

Once shoot day comes, I’m busy keeping the schedule, making sure we get all the shots I need. I also like to keep a happy crew. I’m kind of a stickler for hydration while on set! After we’ve shot for the day, I am itching to start editing. I’m heavily involved in the editing process, choosing music or filter effects that will enhance the story we’re creating.

BP.: What advice do you have for young people who want to get into video production?

Angela: If you want to get into video production, go for it! Study fashion, study film, study drawing…study anything you can that will get your mind flowing creative juices. Go see movies, research fashion designers, research architects! Find out what about this industry makes your heart sing.

I realized that when I was sneaking into the living room late at night to watch fashion shows that I was actually enamored with the story of it all. There are a bunch of different jobs in the fashion industry that people don’t know about, and this is one of them. With the emerging importance of digital media (because it’s so instant), this is going to become an important job—so get your cameras out and start making movies and storyboards.

I started keeping tears of magazines when I was 10 or so, and I have them all in boxes in my closet. Sometimes I dig them out to look at them, and it’s amazing how trends come back around.

It’s never too late to start, but just START. Start gathering inspiration and little artifacts—anything comes in handy. Developing a creative arsenal is really the most important. You’ll never know what might come of it.

Check out Nordstrom’s great videos. You could totally do that job.

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We have a thing for local musicians here at Nordstrom, often inviting local bands to help us launch a special event and pump up the crowd. Last spring, Susy Sun played at our Rebecca Minkoff Spring Launch and we fell in love. We recently caught up with Susy to talk about her musical career and her latest video, Grey Skies

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Q: In a nutshell, how do you describe your musical style?

I’m a classically trained pianist and singer/songwriter. My voice has been described as “bell like.” It’s a sweet voice, mixed with lush music and poignant and emotional lyrics. The songs are heartfelt and uplifting. I write songs that are diary entries. I’ve always used my music as a form of meditation to cope with my own emotions. Currently, I’m recording a new album and adding some edge to my musical style. So, stay tuned. 😉

Q: What motivates you to create music?

It’s definitely an intrinsic motivation. I started singing before I could talk and eventually my parents took notice and gave me private piano lessons. The composing part came when I was around 13. I struggled my whole life with bullying and not fitting in. I always seemed to skirt on the outside of the “in crowd,” which was tough growing up. Music and writing at that point became my outlet for all of this inner angst that I was dealing with. No one sat me down and told me to start making music. It was something that my inner being willed me to do. It was just me.

Q: Take us through the song-writing process. Where do you start? Then what? How do you know when a song is complete?

Generally, I start my songs with one line and melody. You could say that it is generally the “hook” that randomly comes into my head via the universe. I always sit at the piano and write lyrics and music simultaneously. I believe that the music’s mood is directly related to the message that I am conveying in my songs. Generally, I like to get a song done in one sitting. However, given my Gemini disposition, I have a tendency to start things and never quite finish them. I have a million songs on my iPhone recorder that are sitting as ideas and have never turned into songs.  A song goes through many cycles. It is complete after I finish the piano/lyrics/melodies. However, when I bring it to my band or a producer, it takes on another life.  Sometimes, years later, I take an old song and rework it too. There is no finality with art. That’s exciting, isn’t it?

Q: Where do you turn when you feel creatively drained? Why there?

I think that I’m still trying to figure it out! I’ve realized that getting away helps. I grew up in a small town in eastern Washington. Though I love the city life, going out into the country always gives me a sense of peace.  The ocean is very inspiring for me, too. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in yourself—narcissism runs in our veins. But, the ocean is beautiful because it’s so vast and deep. It is bigger than us and has a power of its own. I like being constantly reminded that I’m not that important. The world doesn’t revolve around humans. We are merely a piece of something much grander. This feeling gives me peace, and also inspiration. I love that feeling.

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Q: Your latest video, “Grey Skies,” was shot in one day. Tell us about that experience! 

Our intent for the music video was that the journey would guide the filming and the video’s ultimate direction. First, we drove out to eastern Washington to shoot in the desert. When we got there, it was pouring rain. So we shot anyway. To us, this was part of the journey and represented the subject of life and death perfectly. It’s bumpy and it’s unclear. It’s scary sometimes, but in the end it’s beautiful. That desert rain was unpredictable, but so perfect. We also shot up in the mountains where I was surrounded by the forest and snow. In the beginning and end of the video you see me standing at the edge of a cliff throwing flowers from an urn. This signifies giving over to the grand scheme of things and accepting the unknown. In letting the wind guide your feet, you’ll never be afraid.

Q: You gave up “cubicle life” to follow your musical dream. How would you encourage our readers to pursue their own dreams?

For me, it took quitting my job with Microsoft to completely delve into becoming an artist. My whole life I felt that I had been making excuses as to why I couldn’t do music. If I hadn’t jumped off the cliff, music would have remained my hobby. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point. I had to conquer my personal demons to break through those barriers I had built around me. And, I’ll be honest, when I finally did commit my life to my art, it didn’t get any easier. Every day is a challenge. But, every day I am also one step closer to achieving my dreams and self actualizing. I’m investing in myself and I’m right where I need to be. That’s a great feeling.

Pursue your dreams. What do you have to lose? Be confident. Make friends who are doing things similar to you. Build a community. Support is the groundwork for success.

Q: Any other advice you would give to your younger self?

Don’t wait to pursue what you want to do. Stop thinking about it and just do it.  Also, be patient. The most important thing I’ve learned through pursuing my art is to be present. If you are constantly chasing something, how will you know when you get there? You won’t, because “there” does not exist. “There” is right now. “There” is the present.  If you can learn to be content in this moment, then you have succeeded.

If you live in the Seattle area, be sure to catch Susy Sun at The Crocodile as she opens for Carbon Leaf on Friday, October 10! Need a teaser? Watch Grey Skies now:

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Isabella Rose Taylor at NYFW

One of our favorite new fashion designers, Isabella Rose Taylor, just survived her first runway show at New York Fashion Week! Lucky for everyone, she kept a video diary to share with her fans:

Want to learn more about IRT? You know you do.

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As the end of summer draws near, many of my friends are parting ways to seek out their own post-HS adventures. One of my friends, Claudia, has the incredible opportunity to go to school in London to pursue a career in fashion design.

Claudia was nice enough to answer some questions about her personal aesthetic, her new life in England and her future in fashion design. Enjoy!

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A few of Claudia’s sketches

Lily: So. Have you always known you wanted to be a designer? When did you first start sketching designs?

Claudia: I’ve always had an infatuation with clothing and aesthetics in general. When I was around 14 I started making simple things. If there was a trend I liked but couldn’t afford I’d customize my own interpretation of it, be it a simple modification of an old shirt or something more complex like making a bag. Until this year, actually, I assumed I would be an artist and work in fashion marketing, but when it came time to apply to university I decided I wanted to transition into the actual design aspect of fashion. This is when I started making original sketches and designs.

L: I love that you could make your own stuff. I think more teenagers should do that when they feel overwhelmed by expensive things. What was the actual application process like for your school? Did you have to send examples of your work?

C: Well, being the anxious and nervous person I am, I applied to an extremely wide array of schools. For Central Saint Martins  in particular, though, I needed a full art portfolio as well as two full sketch books. Not to mention the usual essays, references and grades!

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Claudia’s newly dyed, silver hair

L: That’s so much! Are you comfortable sharing your work with strangers?

C: I’m actually a very shy person. I’ve never been the one to “like” photos [on Facebook or Instagram] or start a conversation. With my art and clothing, though, I’m the total opposite. I feel like I’m able to express myself and show my individuality through the way I dress and the things I create. I’m super comfortable showing my work, it’s almost like my version of a conversation, if that makes sense. I love when people comment on my work or style, whether it’s positive or not. I think it’s cool to stand out through the way you dress and the things you make.

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Sketches of Coats

L: Total sense, your attitude about that is very cool. I love that fashion has the ability to enhance who a person is. Where do you find most of your inspirations for designs?

C: Well, my favorite designers at the moment are Alexander Wang, Helmut Lang, The Row, Céline, Rosie Assoulin, Opening Ceremony and Vince. I get most of my inspiration from architecture, nature, bloggers and social network platforms such as Vfiles. The bloggers that I get most of my inspiration from are Ivaana Carpio of Love Aesthetics, Sabrina Meijer of afterdrk , Karley Slutever, Olivia Lopez of Lusttforlife and Clymdraws.  I’m mainly interested in monochromatic, simplistic designs. I love neutral colours, earth tones, black & white with tonal greys. Design-wise I’m a big fan of simple clothing with a twist such as an intricate collar or an oddly shaped piece that fits well.

L: You have such an established aesthetic. Sort of reminds me of Alexander Wang, actually. How do you think being in London (!!) will influence your sense of style/self?

C: Well, I think living in such a large city will allow me to access so many more creative outlets then I can here in Vancouver. London is known for its fashion scene, so I think the latest trends will be available more cheaply, allowing my style to evolve.

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Some of her favorite pieces

L: Yeah, definitely. Topshop and Vivienne Westwood everywhere. Are you nervous at all for your move? Excited to finally start pursuing a real career?

C: I’m not very scared about moving, I’m mainly scared about the course load. My biggest fear is not being able to catch up with others in my course. I’m super excited to finally start taking classes in what I love and work towards a real job.

I’d also say for anyone interested in fashion: I think you should build up your closet with basics. My favorite items are my black and brass Alexander Wang Rocco bag, a vintage grey oversized Jil Sander blazer that I found for 14 bucks and my all-white Nike Air Max ’90s. I love them because they go with essentially every outfit.

L: Thank you so much, Claudia, you’ll be absolutely wonderful and fab in London. 🙂

For anyone else who has fashion school on the horizon—I wish you all the best!

 Stay golden,
Lily

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Have you met Isabella Rose Taylor yet? This mega-talented young fashion designer launched her first collection at age 12(!) in 2012 and has been turning heads all over town ever since. Her style reflects her Austin, TX, roots, with comfortable, slightly boho pieces that make the most of crochet, fringe and patterns pulled from Isabella’s paintings (yeah, she’s a painter, too). We especially love her take on Western-style shirts. They look great with slouchy track pants, and even better with a flirty skater skirt.  She even gave her own TED talk at TEDx Hollywood this year. Oh, and she’s a member of the high-IQ society MENSA—no surprises there.

So you can understand why we’re beyond excited that she’s doing an exclusive back-to-school collection for Nordstrom! You can shop the collection in two weeks (don’t worry, we’ll remind you), but while you wait, we thought you might like to get to know her.

She took a break from getting ready for her first show at New York Fashion Week to answer five quick questions about her inspirations, her plans for the future and what other young designers can do to make it in the fashion industry.

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Q: Your fall collection has definite grunge influences. What were your inspirations and how did they show up in your designs?

A: My Fall 2014 collection does have a definite grunge vibe with hippie elements.  My inspiration for this collection was “Urban Camper.”  I wanted it to be cozy and cool.  My inspiration came from a mixed media piece that I did a few years ago.  I actually combined this piece into the clothing and used it as a jumping-off point for my color story.

Q: You recently got to meet one of your style icons, Charlotte Ronson, on the Katie Couric show and you were invited to Charlotte’s studio. What was it like to hang out with one of your heroes in person?

A:  It was beyond wonderful to meet Charlotte Ronson.  It was a great experience to see how she works in her studio and what her inspirations are for her collections.  I am always grateful for opportunities to learn more about fashion.

Q: Where do you see your line in five years? Any plans to move into the luxury space and give Alexander Wang a run for his money?

A: In five years I would love to become an international brand, expand into accessories and continue to inspire and mentor other young people.  I would love to move into the luxury space and maybe do a collab with Alexander Wang. 😉

Q: Tavi Gevinson recently said about graduating from high school that she’s looking forward to people talking to her about her work, not about what it’s like to be a young person doing interesting work. What do you think about that?

A: I actually have talked about this on several occasions.  I know it is a novelty that I am designing fashion at a young age but I would love for people to look at my work and like the work without referencing my age.

Q: Many of our readers are working on a project to develop their own fashion line this year. What advice do you have for new designers, both from a creative perspective and from a business perspective?

A: There are so many areas to explore in the fashion world.  Concentrate on those areas that you love.  It may be sewing or pattern making or drawing designs or fashion business,  whatever it may be try to learn as much as possible.  Find a mentor in your community that can help guide you.  Creatively, it is important when you find your inspiration to tell your story.  It will take hard work, determination and in my case learning by my mistakes so you must continue to persevere.  Lastly, be sure to dream big.

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Follow Isabella on Instagram (@isabellarosetaylor) and Facebook to keep up with her adventures, and check out her blog for more yummy interviews and updates!

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In honor of Record Store Day, we thought it would be nice to profile a designer whose entire business is built on giving back to his community. Gabe Johnson founded Horses Cut Shop to, in his own words, save America.

He travels the country looking for small, independent businesses with cool logos and cool stories, then he makes and sells T-shirts for them and donates a generous percentage of the profits back to the businesses. We’re proud to say we carry two of Gabe’s record-store T-shirts (plus several other, non-record-store shirts), one from San Francisco’s Amoeba Music and one from Portland’s Jackpot Records. (All his shirts are made in the U.S.A., too.)

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We caught up with Gabe and asked him a few questions about how he got started, what his secret recipe for success is and what advice he has for young people who want to run their own show:

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BP.: Horses Cut Shop has so many cool T-shirt designs. How did you decide which ones you were going to feature for your women’s line, and when are you going to release more? (That Harborena T is looking mighty fine…) 

GJ: I’ve been spending a lot of time in the desert of the southwest with an Apache friend of mine searching for my spirit animal by listening to old vinyl in an old trailer.  Horse trailers and eagles, records and quiet, desert bones. Inspiration comes in many forms, best not to question it especially on a tight deadline. This summer I’ll be poking around in the big woods of the Pacific Northwest looking for new designs.  More gems from the logging roads less travelled coming soon.

P.S. I started skating at the Harborena Skating Rink in Hoquiam, WA, when I was nine and now when I go home to visit my mom I skate there on Saturday night. Two months ago I beat a dozen Jr. High kids in a Shoot the Duck competition. 30 years between victories. True story.

BP.: What was your day job before you started Horses Cut Shop?

GJ: I followed all the rules for a very long time. Good student, college, fraternity, finance job, Internet job in cubicle, Internet job in office, Internet job in bigger office.  I still remember the day I arrived at work and decided that all the rules from yesterday no longer applied to me.  So I quit the job without any experience in apparel or design, bought a vintage truck and trailer and got lost. The rest is what my mom would call a “strange career move.”

BP.: How did you turn your T-shirt business into a real, live career?

GJ: Simply put, I created a solution to a problem. The problem is that our communities are losing their unique identities, which are made of independent businesses like the local record store, the bait shop, the skating rink, etc. When these businesses close we lose more than just a place run by a guy that sold some stuff. We lose a piece of personal history and a relationship that helps anchor our concept of home. My solution is to combine America’s love affair with the little guy with its passion for fashion and personal brand.

Horses Cut Shop uses T-shirts featuring real, iconic, independent businesses as vehicles of salvation, both financial and moral.  The T-shirt you choose to wear starts a conversation about why Jackpot Records matters and what Portland and America lose if it goes away.

BP.: Do you and your friends really get to cruise around the country looking for small businesses to partner with for T-shirt designs? Like, for your job? How is that even possible? 

GJ: I know. It’s true. It’s that much fun. I meet someone in Seattle who’s originally from Minneapolis and who knows a guy whose family owns a burger joint. Next thing I know, I’m there behind the counter talking to two generations of owners, hearing about how the business came to be and getting to know the regulars and why the place matters. If you look at the people a family business typically serves, you’ll simply see a larger family.

BP.: What advice do you have for young people who want to make and sell their own designs? Or just run their own show, period? 

GJ: My grandfather said we had to think about our purpose in life as a product and ourselves as the company that makes it. If your company is worth investing in, you just don’t do it when skies are sunny and you’re on the up-tick. You invest over the long term, in good times and when you’re about to lose everything.  You keep buying in and buying in. The short term may satisfy but it’s the long term that rewards. I think it’s called dollar cost averaging. [The preceding anecdote was brought to you by my late grandpa Stanley and Business Finance 101.] 

Have a strong point of view, and don’t be afraid to alienate some people. It’s easy to feel like we have please everybody in order to be successful. To be of the people, among the people, but not beholden to people takes an unwavering belief in yourself. It sounds so clichéd, but there’s a reason clichés are true. The reason most small businesses fail is that people give up too soon. There’s an off-ramp every mile and a half, and you have to have faith in what you’re doing. And don’t do it for the money. If you’re doing it for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Money won’t sustain you through hard times—passion will.

BP.: Any other advice to offer about life in general?

GJ: Think about the kind of person you want to be in 10 years and start surrounding yourself with those types of people. And be nice to your mom.

BONUS: In addition to a T-shirt company, Gabe used to run a social club and was profiled by fashion-world darling Todd Selby in a video for Nordstrom. Check it out:

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Something we don’t talk about very much here on the BP. blog (though we should) is our talented BP. fashion designers. That’s right—we have our very own in-house design team, and we thought it would be cool for you to meet one of them and learn how each season’s new styles go from concept to your closet.

Tracy Griffith has been an in-house fashion designer at Nordstrom for eight years, and has spent the last two of those years designing clothes for you, our BP. friends. We asked her to describe the process of creating a garment, and she said it all starts with an inspiration board that she and her team put together with some help from our Trend Forecasting department. Once she’s got a solid feel for the trend, she starts drawing!

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After the drawing has been approved, it’s time to start looking for the perfect fabric. The design team receives fabric samples from all over the world, in every color and texture you can imagine. Tracy sorts through all the samples until she finds the perfect one.

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Fabric in hand, it’s time to take her drawing from a dream on paper to the reality of the dressmaker’s dummy. Now she creates her initial sample garment.

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That sample garment then goes to market with all the other clothes the designers have dreamed up for the coming season. Buyers from the BP. department will come to the showroom and place their orders for the items they want to see in the stores and online. Once they’ve placed their orders, the patterns get sent to the garment factory for a full production run.

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Tracy was nice enough to answer a few questions for us about how she found her career and what it takes to be a working fashion designer:

BP.: How did you get to be a fashion designer? 

TG: I decided at 13 that I wanted to be a fashion designer, I deviated from this plan a couple times along the way, I majored in fashion merchandising for a minute, and also worked as a costume designer for a year but ultimately ended up where I was meant to be, as a fashion designer.  A lot of my friends who are designers have similar stories.  It’s usually something you know you want do from a young age and then it takes a lot of work and dedication but you just work hard and make it happen.

BP.: What’s your favorite part about your job?

TG: My favorite part of the job is that each season there is something new!  I love how fashion is ever-changing, new trends, silhouettes, fabrics, even the change from designing Spring seasons to Fall seasons is an exciting one. It never gets old, it’s always fresh.

BP.: How long does it take between when you design something and when it hits the stores?

TG: It typically takes anywhere from 6 to 9 months.  There are many aspects; designing, sampling, meeting with the buyers, fit, production, and shipping. Each part takes time.

BP.: How do you know what’s going to be in style by the time your designs hit the stores?

TG: There is a lot of research and forecasting involved.  There is a whole part of the fashion industry that is dedicated to trend forecasting.  Nordstrom has their own team and they present to my team and then my Design Director drills it down further for the Juniors Market and presents to me and then I research from there.  I look at what is trending on the runway, in vintage, on the streets, and on blogs. Even though runway shows are more high-level and maybe it doesn’t seem like they directly apply to the juniors market, they do. It is important to look at Runway because it influences what’s trending next across the industry.

BP.: Who are your main inspirations or role models and why?

TG: There are a lot of designers I admire and feel inspired by. Like fashion, the list changes constantly.  My favorite designer right now is Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent. He has really updated the house to look super cool, grunge, and rocker, but he always references something from the original YSL looks in his collections to tie it to the house’s origins.  I’m a huge fan and can’t wait to see more!

My mom is my role model.  She is a very strong and successful business woman and has always empowered me to be and do whatever I want in life. That kind of support and example has been invaluable.

BP.: What’s your number one wardrobe essential right now?

TG: I am loving the combination of crop tops with high waisted bottoms right now.  It feels new, and so right.  A little gratuitous self promotion of a product I designed: this crop tank is great for wearing under cardies and button-downs, with a pair of overalls, or on its own when it’s warm out, I love it!

BP.: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring fashion designers, what would it be?

TG: Believe in yourself.  Being a designer requires putting yourself out there—your ideas, your creativity, it’s what it’s all about.  Don’t be afraid, go for it! If something you’ve designed doesn’t work out, don’t take it personally or get discouraged, just move on to your next great idea.

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For the past couple of years, it’s been a dream of mine to become a Regional Merchandiser (RM) for Nordstrom. The RM visits all the stores in her region—a region covers several states—and helps the staff in each store make their department the best it can be in every way, from sales to displays to in-store events. So you can understand my excitement when I got to interview the RM who supports my store.

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Nicole rocking some Starbucks and looking totally on trend

Let’s talk work:

Nicole is responsible for all the stores from New Jersey to North Carolina (my home state). Specifically, she talks to and builds relationships with the managers of the different stores, teaching them selling and coaching techniques. She also meets with them about planning and achieving their goals.

Her favorite cities to visit are Charlotte, North Carolina, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She enjoys the warm weather in Charlotte, as well as the friendly people who live there. According to her, “Walking down the street, everyone smiles and says hello.” I guess it’s just that good old Southern charm! Nicole really likes Philadelphia and the Philly customer because she is very similar to the “New York girl,” who’s trendy and takes risks in the way she dresses.

Nicole’s favorite thing about the position is seeing people get promoted. Because she meets closely with the managers, she gets to watch them fulfill their goals. She also gets to travel, meet lots of different people and see trends all the time.

The hardest thing about being a regional merchandiser, Nicole says, is gearing merchandise toward the different customers up and down the coast. For instance, the “Charlotte girl” is different from the lady who lives in Washington, D.C. Because she approaches her job store by store, it can be difficult at times to pinpoint what each woman wants.

Nicole’s advice for someone who wants to be a regional merchandiser? Always be open to feedback. According to her, there are always opportunities within the company to grow and improve. Keep an open mind and ask tons of questions!

Although she loves her current position, she hopes to one day be in the buying office as an accessories or dress buyer.* Good luck, Nicole!

Let’s talk fashion:

When I asked Nicole how she defines her personal style, she simply said: “All over the place.” She can wear the “girliest pink dress you’ve ever seen” one day, and she will wear a boho cut-out top the next. Her style really depends on her mood when she wakes up the next morning.

Her wardrobe staple? Anything and everything chambray. In her own words, “It can go with anything you could possibly ever own.” It’s become a definite go-to item in her closet.

I had so much fun meeting and interviewing Nicole. Because she travels from store to store, maybe you can meet her, too!

Stay beautiful,
Samantha

*Read Brittany’s interview with an assistant accessories buyer here.

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