What was your inspiration for your collection?
“My inspiration started with [an] interest in color blocking, specifically color blocking with scrap fabric. I took inspiration from designer Daniel Fletcher and his creative use of fabric scraps. In addition, I knew I wanted to use pleather, vinyl, and a more contrasting color scheme. All of those things combined made me think of the character Queen of Hearts. The checked and diamond patterns, color scheme, and fabric choices all fit perfectly with this inspiration, but it was really the embodiment of power and individuality that was inspiring from the character. My brand works to encourage confidence through affordable designer fashion, so the character’s ability to unapologetically embrace their true self was spot on.”
Is there anything else you want to tell me about your collection?
“I created 18 total looks for the collection. I showed 13 of the 18 at Omaha Fashion Week in August and then showed all 18 at Kansas City Fashion Week in September. Each look was carefully cultivated to be unique, timeless, and versatile, specifically highlighting the consumer and designed to grow alongside them as they navigate through life.”
What were the challenges of breaking into the fashion industry?
“For me, I think the biggest challenges were personal challenges. Every internship or industry experience I have had has been incredibly positive. But, working on building my brand and its identity, working on my technique and skill set, and also my mindset [was] the biggest [challenge]. I had so many ideas, but making them all align to create my vision was difficult at first. It took time and I am still working on all these things!”
What challenges did you face after graduating?
“A big challenge was staying motivated. I started my full-time job working with a local business Rightfully Sewn as a Pattern Designer a week after graduation while simultaneously working to grow my own business by planning pop-up events, social media marketing, and creating the new collection. It was a serious adjustment to find time to do all of that and get settled in my new life. It was difficult to stay motivated because I rarely had time to myself outside of working both jobs. I figured out fast that I needed to stick to a strict schedule that allowed me to factor in social time and self-care time. After creating this schedule, I began to feel more motivated and excited about the opportunities that were coming my way.”
How did you get started with KCFW fashion week?
“I began as a volunteer my freshman year of college. I volunteered for one of the shows that fall season and instantly wanted to participate more. So, for the spring season that year, I auditioned as a model and got the opportunity to walk for a designer. The next season, I decided to apply as a model and designer. Although I was not selected the first time I applied to be a designer, going through the interview process was so helpful and I got the chance to meet all the staff and make connections. I came back the following season very prepared and was chosen as a designer! After two seasons of designing and modeling simultaneously, I realized how much I loved the environment and staff. The entire staff was incredibly supportive and friendly. So, I reached out to Phil Willoughby (CEO of KCFW) about a possible internship. I worked alongside the staff helping plan the fall 2020 fashion show. Following the show, my title changed to the KCFW Designer Liaison. Fast forward to the present, I just finished my fourth season as a designer and model, and my second as an official KCFW staff member. I am already excited to start planning for next season!”
What do you want to accomplish with your fashion? What’s your story?
“My main goal is to encourage individuality and confidence in others. Fashion holds an incredible power, being a force that can alter our mood, productivity, and overall self-love. I want to provide clothing that makes others truly feel like themselves and have the power to show their individuality to the world. Fashion for me has been a tool that has helped me love myself more and feel confident in who I am. I want to help others feel that way as well.”
Any advice for any other fashion students?
“My advice is to be as involved in the industry as you can. The more experience you can get outside of class the better! Working a variety of internships and participating in KCFW allowed me to make connections and nail down what I wanted my path to be after graduation.”
To shop: https://www.graciekeydesigns.com/
Images from @kc_fashionweek, @akrimagery, and @graciekey.designs on Instagram