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my job at girbaud was really exciting, even though i was mostly doing “CAD” work illustrating specs for clothing, and my boss had daily meltdowns and yelled at everyone. i made friends with a graphic designer in the office down the hall, anthony goicolea, and he was my first friend who lived in brooklyn. he and his boyfriend had turned a storefront in williamsburg into an amazing apartment where everything was white (this is his current home).
a freelancer named karen who sometimes worked at girbaud told me about the fashion temp agency 24/seven, which sent her on short term jobs paying $20-40/hour. so i left girbaud to be a freelance CAD artist. I loved the flexibility and getting to peek into different companies without making a commitment to work there full-time. at every job people would complain incessantly, and it was nice to just observe from the periphery. i worked at the limited, tocca, and calvin klein. at calvin klein i freelanced for over a year and then was hired as the women’s graphic designer for the denim line. the head of HR had been reluctant to hire me full-time because i didn’t have a college degree, and i’m still thankful to my two bosses who pushed her to overlook it.
working for the CK jeans line was not the most creatively fulfilling job, but my bosses and co-workers were incredibly talented. it felt like a rigorous art school (in fact, they paid for their employees to take one class a semester if it was work-related, and i took courses at parsons and FIT in the evenings). i worked insane hours and made friends i’m really close with today– hi! the company sent us traveling to do market research and i loved going to london and LA (to shop!).
a lot of my inspiration at that time came from international magazines, especially japanese fashion mags. i followed the british/japanese clothing line eley kishimoto like a cult– their patterns made me want to be a textile designer. i loved sofia coppola’s clothing line milkfed, which mostly sold in japan. i’d see chloe sevigny on the subway sometimes and i loved her style. there were lots of small shops in the east village and lower east side that carried collections by independent designers. we shopped at TG170, johnson, alife, built by wendy, and the first steven alan store was in a small space on east 11th, and then later on wooster (where i was introduced to lines like katayone adeli and vanessa bruno). i met cal patch at her shop on rivington, patch 155, and a group of friends and i took a crochet class from her and it reignited my love for handcrafts. i also took classes at the make workshop– a quilting class with denyse schmidt felt life changing.
i interviewed for a job at jill stuart and accepted a position of graphic and textile designer. my second day at the new job was 9/11/01. i stepped out our front door and started to turn right to walk up to 14th street and catch the train, but i saw people staring towards downtown so i turned to look. one of the twin towers had a gaping hole. it looked so surreal. i ran back upstairs and told josh to look out the window. over the next hour we watched from our fire escape as both towers fell and hundreds of people walked up hudson street covered in debris. it was horrible…
the west village changed so much during the seven years we lived there. sex and the city started filming and then perry street became a tourist destination. magnolia bakery, a block from our place, had insane lines. we still loved living there, but basic amenities were disappearing… our laundromat became an expensive eyeglass store and our favorite chinese restaurant became a bank. the meat packing district changed even more drastically. florent closed.
my job at jill stuart turned out to be a disappointment. i wasn’t working directly for jill, but rather for a strange company that licensed her denim line, so i left after 9 months. i returned to freelancing and mainly worked for a small husband-and-wife company, angel textiles. there i learned to expertly make repeat patterns of the most complex designs. i loved the technicality of it and being surrounded by textile patterns all day– i felt like i had found my passion in textile design. i started designing and producing my own fabric, and making pillows under my own label.
most of our friends had moved to brooklyn by 2004. we were hesitant to leave manhattan and our cheap, cute apartment but we started looking at real estate listings. we didn’t know brooklyn well– just williamsburg and parts of park slope. we rented a zipcar and drove around for a day to check it out. we loved fort greene.
(top photo: snowy hudson street in 2001, bottom photos: photographing my own textiles in 2004)