Each week we will be highlighting one of the fabulous emerging designers from Phoenix Fashion Week 2016. This week, meet fashion designer Marisa Mike, whose designs are a fresh depiction of heritage.
Hometown: Tonalea, Arizona (Navajo Reservation)
First fashion job: I actually have been sewing from home for a long time. I have attended The Art Institute of Phoenix, but I didn’t even work the whole time I was a full-time student. We immediately moved home after I finished and just continued my work from home. It’s a super rural community where the nearest fashion retail store is about 120 miles away, so that’s why I had to create my own business.
When did you know you had a passion for fashion: I realized my passion when I’d make a contemporary outfit from a Navajo traditional style and I literally played with the idea. My clients usually had a clear vision of what they wanted in their dress and would go according to their wishes. It just felt so rewarding when my clients were happy with what I had made. When the time came I decided to return to school for my college education, I chose The Art Institute of Phoenix and landed in the Fashion Marketing program. At the time, they hadn’t yet offered the Design program. It was when I attended school that I developed this brand concept for my senior project and had slowly built on that after graduation and here I am today competing in Designer Bootcamp.
Person who has impacted your life the most: My husband has the most amazing work ethic. He’s just always outside and we like to watch the sunset most evenings. We’ll just drop what we’re doing and pause just to see all the pretty colors. It’s not the same every day. In that respect, we also like to appreciate life.
Your biggest fashion accomplishment in your eyes: Fulfilling each of my individual clients has been a huge accomplishment every time. This is definitely a huge step up in my entry to Phoenix Fashion Week and is currently my biggest challenge and whoever may win the Designer of the Year title, I will forever be grateful for just the experience. Designer Bootcamp will have made me step out of my comfort zone to serve a much larger market.
The biggest obstacle you have overcome: Making the decision to enter this contest and not give in to working a regular day job. I’ve read that other well known designers fought that very same challenge, where they would basically strapped for cash, but still didn’t take job offers that they knew they didn’t want.
A designer who inspires you: I believe I can identify with Anna Sui. An American designer who doesn’t come from a rich family and still managed to reach her goals in fashion industry. Vera Wang’s dad was an oil tycoon and Michael Kors’ mom was a model and other designers have had a connection to fashion industry before entering and becoming successful, but Anna Sui was making her own dolls clothes’ by her mom’s side when her mom was mending clothes at home as a child.
Favorite quote: “Fashion is full-time” –Karl Lagerfeld
Advice to someone pursuing a career in fashion as a designer: Staying focused is key. Although, I only wish I could have taken the Design program when I attended art school, I am grateful to have learned so much about the entire marketing process from concept to consumer. I also learned that there are some successful Designers that also didn’t have a formal education in Designing or Patternmaking and learned from their occupations like Giorgio Armani.
Favorite piece you have ever designed: I wanted to create something that would distinguish my designs apart from others who work with Pendleton fabric as well, to make even more covetable because young girls did come to me asking for the one shoulder style several times and this is the result. Keeping to a measure of modesty, a lot of my clients did always ask for a long length for coverage as well. It’s my contemporary spin on the traditional rug dress usually worn for special occasions. The main occasion that girls want something specially made like this is for a graduation, but I have to figure out how to keep selling when people are not graduating, hence my participation in Bootcamp.
For more information, visit marisamike.co.
If you would like to attend Phoenix Fashion Week 2016, you can purchase tickets here: bit.ly/PHXFWFABAZ. Use promo code FABAZ for $20 gift card good towards any seat (not applicable towards standing room tickets).