Fashion Coutourier Talks ‘Making The Cut’
What inspires your collections?
Many things add to my brainstorming when coming up with new collections. It might be a piece of clothing that inspires me or designer photos in magazines such as Vogue or W. Colors, fabrics/textures, seasons and often times I just sit back and think to myself about how I’m feeling. How I’m feeling can translate into a color palette. This Fall it translated into the color black. Black leather, black fur, black scuba. Fitted, sexy, timeless silhouettes. Luxury. Previous collections color palettes: Chartreuse, lavender, grey silks and Pucci inspired prints; red silk, gold spandex and zebra prints in fur.
Why did you start your own business instead of going to work for someone else?
I find that I thrive better doing my own thing. I can get things done faster and do them my way. I always felt held back working for someone else and never fully appreciated.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to be a designer?
I wanted to be an astronaut or an astronomer. I would receive the Odyssey magazine (kids magazine about Astronomy) in the mail every month and I really wanted to go to space camp. My parents bought me a telescope one Christmas and I would look at the planets, constellations and moon when they were visible in the night sky.
If you had to choose another career what would it be?
Right now I would love to be a sommelier or vineyard owner. I love wine and learning about the different varietals and regions its grown, harvested and produced. I would be happy farming the grapes and learning the chemistry behind how to produce different wines and the techniques behind them.
Be realistic about your expectations. All the talent in the world has little to do with how successful you will be. You will need patience, persistence and longevity to try and make a go at having a marketable mass produced line and most of the time it’s sheer luck.
If you could offer one piece of advice to young designers what would it be?
Be realistic about your expectations. All the talent in the world has little to do with how successful you will be. You will need patience, persistence and longevity to try and make a go at having a marketable mass produced line and most of the time it’s sheer luck. Right place, right time, right person. This is a career you will spend a lot of time and money on. People expect you to pay to show your work (fashion shows) instead of paying you to perform (bands). You will pay for materials to produce your line, venues to show your line, models, photographers, and marketing/advertising. And then fingers crossed someone will place an order and you might break even. Have a back up plan. Meaning have a marketable skill you can acquire a full-time income from. This isn’t an easy business and very fickle. Mostly based solely on somebody’s OPINION. One person may love your work and the next person hate it.
If you could offer one piece of advice to young girls who want to follow their dreams what would it be?
It’s great to be passionate about something and it makes going to work everyday fun if you love what you do. This doesn’t mean it’s perfect all the time. You will have bad days/times. Make sure your dream can pay the bills and you can stand on your own two feet as a female. This was always very important to me. I wanted to make sure I could always take care of myself financially and not rely on someone else. Also, do not acquire too much debt for your dream, ie: student loans or business loans. Debt will swallow your future income and your motivation.
Make sure your dream can pay the bills and you can stand on your own two feet as a female. This was always very important to me. I wanted to make sure I could always take care of myself financially and not rely on someone else.
Why do you think women more often in not view other women as competition instead of an ally?
Fear. Fear of not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, etc. And someone else having the power to negatively effect your resources.
What would you like to see change in the fashion world?
Credibility. Unlike other professions, anyone can wake up one morning and can call themselves a ” fashion designer” with ZERO credentials. I have a Bachelor’s in Fashion Design and 15 years experience in the fashion design business. I don’t feel like my profession is protected.
Can you tell us about your sweet dog Jo Jo and about your work with runways and rescues?
JoJo is my 12yr old chihuahua mix. He was a rescue dog that was adopted from animal services. He has brought me and others around me a lot of joy and happiness over the years. I take him to my design studio everyday where he is the official “customer greeter”. I have always had a passion and deep love for animals. I grew up with dogs and cats as a part of my family. When I started putting together my fashion shows in Gainesville I decided to add a charity to my event as a way to give back to the community. It was only natural that I would choose an animal rescue as the beneficiary. The event I created was called “Runways and Rescues” and showcased my latest fashions paired with dogs walking down the runway. Ticket sales and auction items raised money for the animal rescues.
Jacquelyn Brooks is a professionally accredited fashion designer who holds a Bachelors of Science in Apparel Design and Technology from The Florida State University. Jacquelyn specializes in designing women’s apparel and has been doing so in the Gainesville area for over 15 years! Design examples include bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, pageant gowns, formal gowns, game day dresses, casual dresses, children’s apparel and canine apparel.
Jacquelyn’s most recent accomplishments include being named one of Business in the Heart of Florida magazine’s “Fierce List-Women who are shaping business in Gainesville”, becoming a finalist in the Belk Southern Designer Showcase 2015 for her Ready-to-Wear Clothing line “Strawberry Blonde Clothing”, showcasing the “Strawberry Blonde Clothing” collection at the Atlanta Apparel Mart 2014 & 2015, designing a gown for Miss Gainesville for the 2014 Miss Florida pageant, designing a red carpet gown for the ESPY Awards, dressing the Orlando Fashion Week 2015 hostess, Estee Martin, both Friday and Saturday nights, being named one of HOME magazine’s “Forty under 40″, reaching the semi-final castings for “Project Runway” and “Fashion Star” on her first and only attempt, showcasing her talents at “Orlando Fashion Week 2013 & 2015″, “The Southern Women’s Show- Orlando 2012, 2013″, “The Southern Women’s Show- Jacksonville 2013, 2014″ “Gainesville Fashion Week 2011, 2012, 2013″, “Fashion Week Nashville 2010″ and producing her own annual charity fashion show event, “Jacquelyn Brooks Designs’ Runways and Rescues 2011, 202, 2013″, which raises funding and awareness for local animal rescues. A strong advocate for community service, Brooks donates custom-designed dresses to several local charities’ silent auctions. The live auction piece she designed for the Cure by Design Fashion Show raised $5,000 for the American Cancer Society!