Each week we will be highlighting one of the fabulous emerging designers from Phoenix Fashion Week 2019. This week, meet Nicole Willis, the Designer of Astrid Underground – modern steampunk fashion for the unusual woman.
Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
What is unique about your brand: My brand gives designer clothing quality with ready to wear prices.
What is your brand’s style: Astrid Underground is a delicate balance of gothic flair with modern steampunk inspiration.
What footprint/legacy will your brand leave the world with: My legacy is to make clients who wear our garments feel better about themselves every time they wear our clothing. Astrid Underground celebrates your curves!
First fashion job: My first fashion job was with Yoga Democracy. There I was their head seamstress and learned how to sublimate and run a flatlock machine. Since then I have trained everyone in Phoenix that knows how to run that machine.
When did you know you had a passion for fashion: As a child my grandmother wanted to teach me how to sew. I wanted NOTHING to do with it! I was always the odd girl; I dressed in black and lots of layers. I always had a flair for the dramatic with my clothing, but it wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to go to college that I really knew that I had a passion for fashion. I got my degree in Fashion Design from Mesa Community College, and I have been designing ever since.
Person who has impacted your FASHION life the most: My grandmother has really been my driving factor. Even though she and I did not always see eye to eye, in the end she is always my guiding light. The last words she said to me were “ I want you to be a famous fashion designer.” So here I am trying to live up to her words. When I am lost and need inspiration I talk to her. I feel like it helps calm my mind so that I can think clearer. She gives me strength when I felt like I want to give up.
Your biggest fashion accomplishment (SO FAR) in your eyes: I feel like my biggest fashion accomplishment so far is still to come. I think that the show in October will be my biggest accomplishment. First, because it will be a 12-look collection which will be my biggest collection yet. Secondly, I will have all of the technical aspects of this collection done before the garments are even sewn.
The biggest FASHION obstacle you have overcome: Boot Camp is the biggest obstacle I have had to over come by far! Every day I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of what is boot camp and still try and design, pattern, sew, and sell each of these garments. Everyday I breakdown, and every day I pick up the pieces and remind myself that this is all going to be worth it in the end. Every time I feel like giving up, I ask myself “How bad do you want it?” And every day I tell myself that is worth every minute to get to where I want to be.
A Designer who inspires you: I recently found a company called Dark Garden Corsetry, the corsets that they come out with are amazing! They are very inspiring with what they create. However, before that I would really say that Emily Payne is a huge inspiration because she is just a regular girl that has made it in the fashion industry. She still takes the time to reach out to those who show interest, she is not “too good” to answer her fans. She has an amazing personality and is so humble!
Favorite quote: I am not a big quote person but I will quote myself, “Always be moving forward.” This is my motto in life. If it does not move me forward, I don’t do it. That includes the people I hang out with and where I go in my everyday life.
Advice to someone pursuing a career in fashion as a designer: Fashion is not for the weak of heart. If you are not a self-starter, or you are not a “I’ll sleep when it’s done” kind of person, then fashion is probably not for you. It is cut throat and competitive, there are 1000’s of people out there doing exactly what you are, and they might even be doing it better than you, you need to find a way to separate yourself from them! How are you going to do it better?
How has the Phoenix Fashion Week #DesignerBootcamp impacted your brand? My brand is no longer what it was, like at all! I have changed everything from the logo, the name, the clothing, and honestly, me too. I am working harder, AND LONGER. I have a new way of looking at my brand. I am very happy with the direction that I am headed.
What can fans expect to see from your collection in October: Fans can expect to see the story of who my ideal client is and what she wears on a day-to-day basis, from work, to weekend, to evenings out! I call this line “Finding the Light in the Dark.” It is about finding light even when you are at your darkest. The garments are made to make you feel better about yourself when you wear them. They are about celebrating ALL body types. You are UNIQUELY YOU!
If you would like to attend Phoenix Fashion Week 2019, you can purchase tickets here: eventbrite.com. Use promo code FABAZ for a $20 gift card good towards any seat (not applicable towards standing room tickets).