Thursday, January 21, 2016

How I'm Making The Most of my Career w/My College Degree

My new clothing line inspired this blog post about what it takes to make the most out of a career with a college degree in the art field. If you know me, then you know I went to art school and earned my Bachelor in Fine Arts with a major in drawing from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. It dawned on me (waaay late in the game) that I could not possibly support myself or survive with a career in drawing (and even painting in this day and age). With the economy and how it is now, people are not buying art because many people are not making art their priority for things to buy or spend money on.

By my senior year of college at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, I had many fears for my future regarding my life as a starving artist. With the health issues I have, there was no way I could be a starving artist. My final semester of college when I was diagnosed with 22Q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (a disorder next door to Down syndrome), it took me one whole year and another terrifying diagnosis that landed me possibly facing open heart surgery in 2009 to realize what it was I truly wanted to do with my life. It took a lot for me to explore other avenues of my drawing degree, but I always internally knew (with my gut) that I wanted to do fashion. Plus, people need clothes.

Well, that was my first thought. Drawing and illustrating play major rolls in fashion and I thought it might be a smart way to get myself independent and in a career I love. I knew I wanted to maximize my talents, make the most of them, and do something bigger with the skills I have.
To be perfectly blunt and open with you; I was afraid to venture off and do something outside of my comfort zone. While stepping outside of what's familiar to you may be scary, it is also extremely liberating, freeing and rewarding. In September of 2009, I finally tried a ton of new things. 
Me in October of 2009, super old photo
Finally, I was making art people could benefit from. For a few years though, it felt as though I was designing and producing the same top, the same dress, and cranking out outfits people have seen again and again in stores like Macy's or Kohl's. I wanted to be a lot more original than that and make a living. I had to ask tough questions at some point every entrepreneur faces. How was I challenging or not challenging myself? How was I growing as an entrepreneur and business person? Was I just standing still in a safety zone? How could I survive off all of what I am doing? It wasn't until a year ago when I could answer all of those questions, push the envelope, and really get myself established. Here's how I managed to do it all...

The answer for me became tailoring and alterations. A talented tailoring and alterations colleague and friend of mine in the Chicago area introduced me to how rewarding the business is. Plus, it was another way to support myself without losing what I love doing which is drawing, painting, designing dresses, coats, and more. All of the skills I learned in designing helped me create and build a more gainful business that has now allowed me to truly live and maximize my capabilities. I came to love tailoring and alterations because it made women feel amazing in their clothes and I wanted to be responsible for that transformation.

Also, in the last two months, I found another way to utilize my artistic abilities and benefit from my college degree. I wanted to paint textiles, prints, and patterns. I wanted to push the envelope again while supercharging my creative juices. This past October, I began using textile paints to design my own patterns and fell in love with the process. I figured; tailoring and alterations was how I'd survive and support myself and through that, customers and people began loving my hand-painted fabrics. I was drawing and painting with fabrics and combining all of my passions in the art field at once. It was my creative breakthrough. Whoever said everything in fashion has been done is dead wrong, and I'm here to take fashion to the next level!
So, if you are feeling stuck or like you are standing still in your career, simply explore and think about other avenues or paths you could take in your field of interest. Ask yourself these questions: are you just staying in your comfort zone or are you being challenged? Are you growing or not? Are you staying in a safety zone because of fear? I have had a lot of failures too, but I learned from them and experienced tremendous growth from them. Stop fearing the inevitable. If I can do all of this, you can do something amazing too. After all, everyone was born to do something amazing. 

A collection I've just started working on involves painting my own patterns and textiles and really going beyond the "design" aspect of my career. In mid to late February, I am thrilled to announce that I'll be diving into tailoring and alterations again and will be challenging myself to tailor and alter more bridal gowns (bridesmaids dresses) and other challenging gowns and dresses. If you don't do different things, you'll never grow. Have faith in yourself and believe that you were made to do more. Now, I want to hear from you: have you made the most of your college degree? If so, how? I'd love to hear your stories. If you are in college still, has this post inspired you in some way? You could also send me a personal email at too and reach out if you have personal questions for me. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog for more beneficial, inspiring and motivating articles like these.  

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