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