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5 Must-have Skills of Successful Designers; IFD Designer Spotlight: Briana Jacobs explains

For designer Briana Jacobs, the road to a career in fashion started at prom. When Jacobs designed and sewed her own prom dress, the experience of making and wearing a garment of her creation was so fulfilling it led her to pursue fashion as a fulltime career. A Portland native, she graduated with a BFA in Apparel Design from The Art Institute of Portland and during her senior year was named the 2013 Emerging Fashion Designer Winner in  Portland Fashion Week.

“Art and fashion have never ceased to excite me,” says Jacobs, “I knew it was my calling to design and make clothes for women. Winning the emerging designer contest for Portland Fashion Week assured me that I’m on the right path and have a long road ahead.”

After graduation, Briana landed a job with Creative Capital Design where she worked her way up to Studio Designer. “My role as a designer is to create contemporary fashion for the modern woman, bringing her the ultimate creative expression in stunning garments that flatter and shape the body. Striving to meet her needs and desires, I follow a strategic process that uses intuitive vision and technical knowledge, applying creativity, quality and innovation.”

IFD: Can you share with us your day to day responsibilities as Studio Designer with Creative Capital Design and skills needed to do those tasks successfully?

CCD is a small and nimble consulting studio, which means I am involved in every step of the design process. I'm lucky in that sense as I have gained experience in the design process from start to finish, rather than working in one specific role. I play an active part in working with each client, their team and development of each collection. Some of the main tasks I manage and the skill sets needed are:

Trend and market research where I work with creative director to create seasonal concepts.

Being resourceful; everyone in apparel is looking at the same trends, so I try to find other resources to pull from and unique ways to interpret trend direction. The more experience you gain, the more resources you find and can develop your own process for trend gathering.

Make mood boards and help create presentations to share with global team. Working in Adobe InDesign, having an eye for creating a balanced, pleasing to the eye layouts. This comes with practice and experience!

Presentation skills are also a must!

Design new styles for season following briefs.

Researching silhouettes, looking at the history of the brands sales, knowing what the consumer needs. Concept sketching by hand, revising, tweaking, considering construction, cost, fabric and trims.

Also understanding costs and making sure the garment meets target price margins

Manage Cad illustration and create tech packs including design details and specs.

Working in AI to draw a technical sketch. This includes all the stitching, zippers, buttons, trims, hems, pockets, every single detail must be included in the sketch and called out on the design detail sheet.

Attention to detail and understanding the construction is a mandatory skill.

Choose new colors for season and assemble color boards for global line. Staying on top of color trends but also knowing what works for the brand, colors that sell and how they will evolve into the next seasons color assortment. Learning how to pick core colors, accent colors, colors to be used in prints and graphics.Participate in fittings and and prototype reviews.Be knowledgeable about construction.

Work along side the technical design team to determine updates needed: good listening skills and open to learning is important here as a technical designer has so much knowledge about costs, construction and best way for each garment to be sewn in a factory setting

Manage all updates through 3-4 rounds of prototypes.

Organizational skills, keeping good notes and recordings of each update. With every little change on a garment, the sketch and design detail sheet will have to be updated

Work with team to prep and create tools presentation for global sales meetings.

Team player, attention to detail, self-motivated and being self-sufficient to manage all aspects of creating marketing materials

Travel internationally with team for market and trend researchAn open mind! Willingness to learn from others, being able to absorb things like a sponge!

Creative Direction, Design Details, Color and Trend

CAD drawings for building assortments

IFD: Traveling is such a great perk of being a designer- where are some of the places you've been?

It has been a great experience! In the past few years, I have traveled to Chamonix France to do research for winter outdoor apparel market where we visited key retailers in Ski Alps Town. In Munich Germany, we visited some of the largest European Outdoor retailers and the clients global office in Starnberg Germany where we worked with team to develop new concepts for the season. London was my favorite- we did lots of retail shopping and trend research for the upcoming season we were working on. We also went to Zurich, Switzerland where we met with a global sales team to review retail, market, competitors, and look at other product opportunities. While there, we hiked Stoos Ski resort and it was stunning! The furthest place I traveled to is Aukland, New Zealand where we visited our clients global head quarters and we worked with their team to handover all designs for new season. I feel very fortunate that I have had these opportunties!

IFD: You recently launched your dream business; Disco Daisy Vintage. Can you tell us how you went about developing your business?

Yes, I have always had a love for Vintage clothing and slowly, over time, have collected many pieces with the intent to someday build this hobby into my own business. For the launch, I worked with a friend to define my passion and what Disco Daisy Vintage stands for:

The Disco Daisy Vintage boutique specializes in aesthetically appealing treasures found in and around the Portland area. This vision has been a culmination of tremendous passion and expertise. From the roots of my combined love for fashion, apparel design, and thrift store shopping, blooms a business that brings all of my fellow treasure seekers a broad variety of unique looks to choose from.

My biggest inspiration comes from that of music festival culture. The many memorable experiences of being overcome by intense joy while attending these festivals was initiated not only by the amazing music, but the exceptional style and enamoring aesthetic that was a consistently captivating theme. Not only have I been able to innovatively adapt to this environment and be a part of the illustrious painting that is festival culture, I have become the artist - continuing to create incredible pieces for my fellow festival fashioneers. I’ve been able to incorporate my finds into this fabulous festival attire, while intelligently integrating into my every-day collection as well. I have been in the fashion industry for 10 years. During this time, I have grown conscientious of the excess material that is often neglected, eventually evolving into uncared for clutter.

I have a strong desire to become part of the solution and have been committed to conservatively diminishing the amount of fabric that may have never been given its chance blossom. I am beyond pleased to offer these playful pieces of clothing and accessories for others to enjoy while remaining sustainably second-hand.

The Creation of Disco Daisy:

Creating and collecting merchandise: After coming up with the initial idea for Disco Daisy Vintage, my first goal was to gather a collection of right garments that fit the style of my brand. I started collecting clothes from thrift stores, online resellers, estate, and garage sales. Once I compiled enough of the right items, I started creating outfits to fit my desired style for the business. For the time being I issued my garage as a home studio where I could design and make custom pieces that could compliment my thrift assortment.

Branding and Business plan: Next I wanted to establish the Disco Daisy Vintage brand. I hired a graphic designer to help create my logo and visual identity. I shifted my focus to identifying my target market, and brainstormed the bests ways to reach those specific customers. The structure of my business plan was greatly influenced by the book, The Right Brain Business Plan by Jeniffer Lee. It’s a great resource for creative entrepreneurs to put their business plan in action.

The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success

Marketing and Social Media Once I finalized the structure of my business plan, my target market and my brand identity - I needed to shift my focus to marketing my product. I worked with a professional photographer to highlight my merchandise so I could start showcasing my products on social media. I edited the photos and planned out a months worth of posts for my media campaign. Instagram was a great tool for reaching my ideal customers and gain a following.

Future Goals To take Disco Daisy Vintage to the next level, I want to create an online website to highlight my entire inventory and to sell direct to consumer. Once I reach my targeted revenue my ultimate goal is to create a Disco Daisy Vintage mobile boutique out of a box truck or trailer. The mobility will allow me to travel to events (festivals, private parties, etc.). and reach a wider variety of customers. It creates a unique retail experience that compliments the lifestyle of my brand.

IFD: And finally, What are your top 5 tips for career success in design?

  1. Be open to opposing ideas- always keep an open mind to different experiences, different opinions and diversity- most often, differences of opinions force you to rethink, reconsider and look at things from different angles. Don't think that your idea is the best! Opposing opinions often lead to more dynamic ideas and conversations that can lead to amazing results.

  2. Be flexible- always stay flexible with your ideas; as excited as you may get over some idea or concept, chances are you're working with a team who may request revisions, offer other ideas to incorporate and I would say 100% of the time, it only improves the idea or project!

  3. Be a team player: this aligns with the first two- working as a designer, unless your truly independent, will have a team to work with. This can include technical designer, pattern makers, graphic artists, textile designer, sales people, and each person plays a role in the success of the brand. Being a team player and adding in value to that team is one of the top skills needed.

  4. Hone in on your listening skills: You learn more from listening than from talking! There is always someone more experienced than you, from different background than you, different skill set from you, and by just listening, you can absorb so much knowledge and insights from them and use that to build on your experiences and skills.

  5. Keep learning new skills: It is important to stay on top of technology, whether it be new InDesign skills, working in Illustrator and Photoshop, or social media. It is important to know what the latest programs and technology are so that you can stay up to date on ways to grow, improve and streamline your work.

“It is my dream that one day my designs will influence and inspire women around the world. I’m driven to design and make garments that will excite others. Always staying true to myself, I design clothes that make women feel confident and beautiful.”

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook and help grow my Daisy’s!

Oh, as if Briana isn't busy enough, she is making masks for personal protection during covid. You may reach out to Briana through social media to order!

Thank you Briana for sharing your story, vision and career tips! We wish you much success!

CCD & IFD want to hear from you! How have you coped during Covid-19? How has your design business or position shifted? Are you looking for support or to share your story? We are all ears!! Reach out to us at:

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Hey there, lovely fashion friends! My name is Britta Cabanos, and I'm thrilled to have you here! 


I'm a 25+ year fashion industry design professional, and I'm passionate about supporting conscious designers, ethical makers, and sustainability. I believe that fashion can be a powerful force for good, and I'm committed to helping aspiring fashion industry pros make their mark in this exciting and ever-changing field. 


If you share my passion for conscious fashion and sustainability,  then you're in the right place. I offer industry insights, mentorship, connections, and resources to help you achieve your goals and make a positive impact in the world. Let's connect and explore the possibilities together - are you ready to join me on this exciting journey?

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About the Book

"Conscious design is a philosophy used at the Peterman Design Firm. We use it to create brands and products that restore and sustain our planet. The Peterman Method for conscious design is the culmination of Ian’s 15+ years working in product development and Jessica’s 20 years in working as a healer and studying regenerative technologies and tools for both people and our planet. Together, we’ve written this book to lay out a culmination of our combined experiences. Our goal is to help other people start looking at the world, and design, in a more conscious way."

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