Inkerviews features the work of tattoo artists and collectors, as well as fine artists, in a series of interviews. With an exciting lineup already in place and endless more to come, I hope you will check back often to read about these incredible people and enjoy their visually stunning talents.
Last autumn when my son Aidan was looking for a vegan jacket to sew his punk band patches onto, I had the pleasure of meeting Annie Rose, the fantastically-talented clothing designer who runs Deranged Designs.
Annie is a sewing dynamo who operates her one-woman business in Sacramento, California; keeping customers seeking fun, offbeat styles pleased as pie and consistently coming back for more.
In addition to her successful site, this DIY designer is a busy college student who will be graduating soon. She has big goals for her clothing design business and definitely possesses the talent and drive to make those dreams come true.
It was a pleasure to talk to this talented artisan about her creative journey, sewing techniques, and goals for the future. I hope you enjoy learning more about the delightful Miss Annie Rose!
How old were you when you first learned how to sew? Did you have aspirations to become a clothing designer when you were young?
I learned to sew when I was eight years old, but I didn’t really get into it until I was thirteen. That was when I became obsessed with sketching designs and altering my clothes. So, thirteen was when I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer.
Are you self-taught or did you have a teacher or mentor early on in your career?
I’ve had many different sewing teachers. One of my aunts originally taught me to sew, and I was also helped by my mother and grandmother. I took sewing lessons for a year or two when I was in high school. I’ve also taken a lot of sewing classes at the local community college. I’m glad to have had so many different teachers, because everybody has different techniques and teaching styles.
Your designs are so unique and SO beautifully made (I can attest). Where do you get the inspiration for the items you create?
Thanks! Inspiration comes from everywhere. I’m a total nerd about pattern making and construction, so a lot of my inspiration comes from analyzing style lines and fabrics on clothes that I see. I also like to turn store-bought clothes inside out to see how they are made. Another source of inspiration is fabric shopping. Whenever I see a roll of fabric, I automatically try to think of something cool I can make out of it. It’s easy to draw pretty sketches and visualize how an outfit should look, but the challenge comes from figuring out the pattern and the construction techniques.
I, along with many readers of this site, love supporting DIY designers. Can you tell us about why this is so important to you and how you plan to remain true to that model as your business expands and grows (I'm assuming that you do not aspire to be showcased in Hot Topic - or something of the equivalent - one day)?
This is a difficult question for me to answer, because I constantly think about these things! I could go on forever but I’ll try to keep it brief.
I’m not sure where my love of sewing will ultimately take me, but I would love to fully support myself with my clothing line. It’s almost impossible to make a living off of one-of-a-kind designs, so that specific part of my clothing line is just a hobby. For the past few years, I’ve been making the same animal print hoodies over and over again. My hoodies are available in many different sizes and prints, and I make them after they are ordered. I have several other items that I make to order. I sell a lot of these so I think that if I develop more products like this, I have a chance at turning this into a full time job.
After I finish school, I plan to focus on my business. Instead of hiring a sewing factory to produce my line, I want to learn more about industrial sewing methods and machines so that I can continue making everything in-house. This means that I would continue selling my designs on the Internet. The alternative would be to find a sewing factory and then sell my clothes wholesale to boutiques. I am willing to do doing this if my current plans don’t work out.
You guessed correctly that I don’t want to sell clothes to Hot Topic, or any other large chain store. I want to keep my business small so that I can keep things personal. I want Deranged Designs to have some kind of good impact on other people’s lives, even if all I manage to do is inspire others to start sewing. Chasing big customers would probably make me lose sight of these priorities.
How do you keep up with the amount of orders you receive and find time for school? When will you be graduating?
I hope to graduate this spring. I’m going to the local community college and majoring in fashion design and merchandising. Balancing work with school can get very stressful. I try to put one hundred percent into both and I end up ignoring other important parts of my life. I’m a perfectionist and a workaholic, which is great for getting things done, but it’s horrible for my sanity! 2010 has been a year of discovering my limits. It has been difficult but I am slowly learning to stop over-scheduling my time.
I appreciate that you offer vegan products. Are all of your items considered "cruelty-free?"
It’s hard to answer this question, because animal byproducts are used in so many different things that most of us don’t even know about. I have sold leather items before (guitar straps with leather ends, skirts made of vintage leather) but I try to avoid animal products. This basically reflects my lifestyle. I eat a mostly vegetarian diet, and I shop at thrift stores when I want a leather belt or jacket. I am aware that everything I do has an effect on animals, the environment, and other human beings. Most people would be amazed at the amount of harmful chemicals used in fabric production alone! I want to stay aware of the dirty side of manufacturing so that I can make ethical decisions about the products I sell and the materials I use. I can’t say that my website is 100% vegan, but it’s not likely that I will ever sell a lot of animal products.
What are your goals for the coming year?
I want to graduate from school without driving myself insane. I want to spend the rest of the year planning out the future for my business. And I want to figure out how to live a balanced life, because work isn’t everything!
Where can buyers order your fantastic clothing? (you can list all the sites and provide links)
http://store.derangeddesigns.com is the main place to find my clothes.
I sell a few things on eBay, but all my eBay prices are higher because of the fees that I have to pay. I also sell at local trunk shows and craft shows (in Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay Area) but I probably won’t do another show until summer of 2011.
All updates about new clothing and trunk shows are posted on my blog. I should note that only about half the stuff up on my website is handmade by me. I also sell several other brands of punk rock clothing and accessories. I like to add new things to my website every month, but sometimes I’m too busy with school or custom orders to come up with new designs.
Any final words or mottoes you like to live by?
I don’t really have any personal mottoes. I just think that if you have the chance to do whatever you want with your life, you shouldn’t waste your time!
To see more of Annie's outstanding work and add some of her pieces to your own wardrobe be sure to visit her website. Support DIY!!
Last updated on January 7, 2011 by Jinxi Boo