My first experience mentoring a very young aspiring small business fashion designer.
This summer I had the fun experience of giving a talented 8 year old girl named Grace the experience of “a day in the life of a designer”.
This lucky young girl is actually the daughter of my cousin and his wife who knew how much their daughter wanted to visit NY to spend a day in my office. They pretty much planned their summer vacation to NYC to incorporate her being able to have this experience.
Tina Trevino and Grace at KBL
Having been in the fashion business for 24 years, I’ve had many young fresh out of school designers join my staff in their early 20’s.
I’ve also had young 18 year old interns come in to gain experience before they begin their full time career in this business and really get to cut their teeth learning that there is also a lot of grunt work as a starting designer. This would be my first experience with a much younger aspiring designer. I really wanted her to enjoy the best parts of being in this industry—the creativity, the NY vibe, and the awe of some of the resources available to designers just being here in the fashion capital of the U.S.
Our day started commuting into the city from the suburbs so Grace got to experience the frenzy of people hustling to get to their jobs first thing in the morning.
Once we got off the shuttle bus, we went directly to one of my favorite fabric stores in the city—Mood. It’s 3 stories of incredible fabrics, trimmings, fur, feathers, ribbons, buttons, and almost anything you could need to make any piece of clothing. Mood is also known to periodically close its doors for brief periods of time to film scenes for Project Runway.
I took Grace to a section of the store with fun print and stripe fabrics so that she could choose some of her favorites and start getting creative.
The staff at Mood is always helpful to designers and will cut swatches of whatever they’re interested in so they can take their fabric goodies with them and start to get their creative ideas rolling. Grace chose about 7 different fabrics as her inspiration.
Our morning commute into NYC heading to Mood Fabric store
Grace is in heaven at Mood Fabric store! So many fun fabrics to design with!
Grace in the lobby of our KBL Group Intl. offices in midtown Manhattan. Her design day is ready to start!
Next we walked a couple of blocks back to my office and got her set up at her own working table with supplies—tracing paper, foam core boards, T pins, markers, colored pencils, etc. I also gave Grace a tour of our office and showroom space so she could meet our design team, sales, and production teams.
She quickly got herself acclimated to the office space, made some friends and also found some other swatches of fabrics that she wanted to use as well.
Grace’s work station for the day
I gave Grace a quick tutorial of how we typically start to create our ideas.
The best thing to do is to create a “mood board” and pin all your inspiration fabrics and ideas on it so that you can be easily inspired. We practiced some tracing so she could get her “croqui” bodies just right and then she took the ball and ran with it!
Grace was busy for quite a while sketching up her ideas and showing me how she planned to accessorize them with shoes, bows, hairstyles, etc. It was like she had been doing this for a while. Her sketches were executed very well and with a lot of detail. We picked our favorite 2 pieces because little did she know I had a surprise in store for her later.
Grace busy at work with her fabric inspiration board and all her markers and pens ready to go
Some of Grace’s sketches. I absolutely love the shoulder bow and roller skates! This girl has talent!
After about 4 hours of sketching creativity, our drawing hands were getting tired and we started to get the munchies and every designer needs a good lunch to keep them going for the rest of the day.
I thought we should stay true to the NY experience so we went and grabbed a slice----but as so often happens with creative people, we got side-tracked at a few stores. We first had to pop in to a souvenir store and get the obligatory “I love NY t-shirt”.
Grace picked a fuchsia one which definitely kept it from being the same boring old white tee, but we knew it still needed some more flash to really make it stand out and be truly fashion-tastic. This led us to our next stop—a trimming store selling beads and patches. We found some fun butterfly, flower, letter and fruit patches that we knew would make this a super cool tee. So 45 minutes later after these 2 pit stops, we FINALLY grabbed our slices and some sodas and came back to the office to stuff our faces and get back to work!
Gobbling up a NY slice in when you’re STARVING!!!
Next-The T Shirt Up Designing Project
About the author
Tina Trevino is the Senior Design Director of KBL Group Intl. Ltd. in NYC and manages their large creative design team. Partner and Director Community Relations for Latin Business Today. She shares all of her insight on upcoming fashion trends for the season with her team to start the collaborative design process. The company specializes in sweaters, knits and wovens. It provides product for ladies, men, contemporary, jr, and children. Tina specializes in coordinating directly with large US retailers to design exactly into their targeted customer needs. With many years under her belt in the industry, she has also gained the ability to go beyond the fashion component and help to work through sourcing, fitting, production and merchandising issues as well.