This past weekend one of my childhood best friends got married in Estes Park, Colorado. It was such a fun time being back together with all my high school friends and enjoying the wedding in such a beautiful place. I absolutely love Colorado and wish there was more of a fashion scene because i definitely could see myself living there. For now I'll have to be happy with occasional visits and snowboarding trips. Congrats Jessie and Russ on starting your new adventure together. Till next time Colorado.
I am a huge believer in getting internships as early as you can in college and anyone that I mentor I make sure I share this belief with them. No matter what industry you are in, it is so beneficial to have that early exposure and experience to put on your resume. I believe a lot of my accomplishments came from getting my hands in the industry at an early age my freshman year of college. After my first year of going to school to get my degree in Apparel Design and Development, I knew that I wanted to get a job related to the fashion industry and start getting experience. I searched on Craigslist, style careers website, and networked with classmates and professors to look for potential opportunities. I eventually came across a posting for a figure skating apparel company located in my hometown of Eden Prairie called Jump 'N Style Skatewear. It was perfect, 5 minutes from my house and it was related to dresses, something I loved to design! I contacted the owner, Cheryl Craig, and she invited me to interview with her. When I met with her, she was first hesitant to hire me since I did not have a lot of experience being just a year in school and the fact I knew nothing about figure skating. I convinced her to give me a chance to show her my capabilities and she agreed to bring me on for a week trial period. I must have proven myself because I continued to work there on all my college breaks, every summer and even after graduation. I learned so much while interning there and thought I would share some of my experiences with you.
To describe what we did at JNS and frame up the process that we would go through I will explain a little more. First off, we worked with a couple different types of customers. We had individual customers that would come in for one of a kind show pieces. These ones were the most fun to work on since they were a lot more elaborate in design and usually had a dip dye treatment and a bazillion Swarovski stones. We also designed practice dresses, warm up-gear and competition dresses that we would make multiples of to sell in the showroom and when we would travel around the states to different skating competitions. Lastly, we worked on team apparel which could be matching warm up sets, practice dresses or competition dresses. The company was laid out to have a main entrance and lobby in the front where customers would come in, back from that we had our pattern and design space as well as fitting rooms. In the middle was the showroom where we displayed all the dresses and in the back was where all the production took place.
The typical process after receiving an order would be to have the designer create designs for the skating dresses based on the request (whether it was a team or individual order). The design was then handed off to the pattern maker who would make the patterns for the designs. If the order was for a team we would need to grade the designs from XS-XL or even down to childrens. The patterns would then be put into a marker making system (we used a program called TukaTech) that laid out all of the pattern pieces and used the least amount of fabric possible. The pattern cutters would then lay the marker down on top of the fabric using a rotary cutter to cut along the pattern lines. After pieces were cut we bundled the designs by size and passed it along to the seamstresses. After the garment was sewn we checked it over for quality and then shipped off to the customer or put in the showroom depending on the order request.
The first main responsibility I had when starting with the company was being a pattern cutter in the back room. It was a really neat experience to see product developed from the very beginning. Throughout the five years I worked there I held almost every position, eventually leaving the company as Designer. Jump 'N Style was most recently bought out by our business consultant Deb Hanson who runs the company out of Blaine, MN and has renamed it JNS Performancewear. I have included some pictures below to give you more of an idea of my experience.
I was so fortunate to have this experience working at a small design company. It taught me so much about running a business and all things you need to be mindful of. It was also a really rewarding to see the company grow and evolve over the past 8 years since I first stepped foot in that back room. I met alot of great mentors while working there who I still keep in contact with on a regular basis. Now it is my turn to teach and inspire others to follow their passion. I completed two other internships while I was in college, one was with a high-end womens wear company in London and another at Target Corporation. In the future I will be posting about my experiences with those as well.
If I can offer any bit of advice to students trying to pursure their passion whether it be design or something not even related, is to get out in the field as soon as you can and start making connections! This is the best time to do it. Invest in your future by completing these internships, and people will invest their time and resources into you!
" We are shaped and fashioned by what we love" Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe