Fashion School Series Part 1: Rejection

They say that hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes looking back on past events you can pin-point and exact decision or moment that your entire life changed or shifted.

The first time I realized this was when I was 21, looking back on my college experience. Like every fashion design student my dream was to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. If you went to FIT you were going to make it- that was the mutual understanding: you would be among the elite fashion designers in the world. When the rejection letter came in the mail and it hit me like a brick to the face! My dreams had just been crushed! Then another rejection letter came, and then another! No one wanted me! I felt hopeless and utter shock! How was I going to pursue my dream of becoming a plus size fashion designer if no one would give me the chance?

I applied not only to FIT, (Fashion Institute of Technology) but also to Parsons: The New School of Design: Tim Gunn’s school. (Now Project Runway at the time had only aired its 1st season back in 06 or 07′- and did not have the following it has today- and I was only 16 and could not apply!) When that second, third and forth rejection letters barreled through my door, I couldn’t believe it! So upset at myself. I was convinced that all of my self taught efforts had been for nothing! I should have been so proud of myself; I learned so much on my own, even made my own prom gowns without any formal training and here I was being told I wasn’t good enough.

Not going to college was not an option- I wanted that college experience and I wanted to learn what I knew others could teach me about my craft. I mean I could always just transfer right? Begrudgingly I also submitted an application to a local private college (my mothers alma mater) Mount Ida College in Newton MA.  And don’t you know I was accepted! Now I wasn’t thrilled to receive the acceptance- but I was relieved that at least I could go somewhere. I just wanted someone to give me a chance.

I just have a stick it out a year- I don’t have to stay, I told myself. The school was smaller, and local (only 40 minutes from my home town). If I just stayed a year, I could reapply and transfer to my dream school- FIT. To my surprise, I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. My freshman class of designers had 35 students (this was a huge number of designers!) It was eye opening that some of the students I met had never sewed before in their lives! I thought- how could you want to be a fashion designer and have never sewed before? Well I guess you have to start sometime! Other classmates I met, even went to a high school that offered fashion design! Now I was impressed- I only wished I would have had that available to me!

Now I couldn’t decide if I was ahead or behind? I was so confused. The whole point of going to college was to be taught. I left my interview at FIT (I knew I blew it the moment I walked out of that door) feeling totally disheartened and frustrated. All of the other applicants I spoke too seemed to be almost twice my age, and have degrees in other subjects. Should I have been this accomplished before even applying? I didn’t get it.

The discovery that changed everything was that my current local small college offered a double major program. This was a new opportunity that might not be available to me elsewhere. I was already enrolled at the college, on my way to one degree, but why not go for two? Many students who graduate with a fashion design degree walk across that stage thinking that they are the next Valentino or Dior, and often that isn’t the case; not by a long shot. Fashion Design students (regardless of which college) tend to get slammed back into reality of the real world of fashion; interning, production, management, international business, marketing etc. Its much more then I think most bargain for.

This double major for me was a game changer. What if I could get a degree in not only fashion design, but fashion merchandising and marketing? I could learn not only how to make clothing, but how to sell it to! This lit my fire! My goal was always to make a living doing what I love, and this opportunity was another way to get there. And if I decided to continue onto graduate school, my merchandising degree would open that door, should I ever choose to walk through it.

My life changed the moment I decided I would stay at Mount Ida and work to receive two degrees in four years! Yes that’s right, 2 degrees in 4 years. I made a plan, and with some luck and careful consideration, executed it. Now I was one of Mount Ida’s first ever double majors to graduate in the history of the college (graduating mind you, with over 230 credits ((the average major is about 125)) and I might add, with a 3.9 GPA (Suck it doubters!)

The double major was a huge factor but it wasn’t everything. I had truly found an amazing support system. I was far enough away from home that I felt I had true independence, but close enough that I was only a short car ride away.  The longer I stuck with fashion design, the fewer and fewer designers remained. Remember that I told you we started with 35? Well out of those 35, we graduated only 8! EIGHT! Including me! Fashion is one of those majors with huge drop out rates; once students realize the long studio classes and work involved after hours, it becomes too demanding and too much.

Fashion design is not like Project Runway, you don’t just get some money, go to Mood Fabrics, and whip up a nice dress in an hour. Its measurements, and fit, and mathematics, and entire world of fabrications and technology, etc. I could go on for hours! It takes hours upon hours of hard work, endless sleepless nights, seam rippers and yards upon yards of fabric, and dedication. And sometimes, you have to just make it again. It really is blood, sweat and tears; but those who persevere and have the tenacity to endure, will succeed.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be during my time at Mount Ida I would meet a professor who would become the gateway to my now full time job in fashion. If I had changed schools, I life would have ended up drastically different. I wouldn’t have the day job I have now, working in men’s big and tall fashion in international business, global sourcing and product development. And for sure I would not have two degrees like I do now. I wouldn’t have met the same people, networked and push my career forward in its current direction.

I also might not have had the confidence to do what I love, despite the world telling me that I wasn’t good enough. In the word’s of Jim Carey- during a graduation speech he gave..” the eyes are not only viewers, but they are projectors, and the title of that story is, I’ll never be enough”. The world will always be telling you why you can’t do, what you can’t have etc. You have to decide to not give a shit and do it anyway. Go ahead and doubt me, you just make me want it that much more.  And again in the word’s of Jim Cary.. “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love”.

I am not a believer in fate, only in choice; cause and effect. But sometimes what looks like a set back or a major disappointment is really one door closing and another opening. Its hard to see at the time in this moment, but trust in yourself and in the process. You will get where you need to be, it just might not have been the way you intended; and that’s OK. My first life lesson: Success is not a straight road.

Thanks so much for reading! Did you have a college experience that way similar? Did you overcome people telling you no? I would love to see you comment!

Want to check out what I am doing now? Sign up for my bi monthly newsletter and get all the details and updates! Sign up here! www.rose-riot.com

-A

 

The ring I have been waiting for…

No- its not an engagement ring- although that would be nice. ::Wink Wink::

On my most recent Torrid shopping trip I spotted this black and silver rose ring and I had to have it! Not only was it pretty, but it was a real ring- that actually had a size. Rather than those rings that are “one size” and have that stupid stretchy back to them. I hate those rings! They always pinch my fingers!

Rose Ring

It is so hard finding jewelry that fits my big fingers. My ring finger is between a 10 and an ll, which is unheard of for fashionable costume jewelry. I usually find something I like, and it’s almost always not in my size. That seems to be a common theme for us plus size ladies. Jewelry is the worst.

Unless I shop at a specialty retailer like Lane Bryant, Avenue, or Torrid, I won’t find jewelry that is big enough for me to wear. The most common issue besides rings are the bangle bracelets; or just bracelets in general. My wrist is a solid 8″ and unfortunately most of the bracelets I like are either 7 or 7.5″ inches. Ugh.

However- I do also believe in shopping small whenever possible! There is a jewelry company called J Ashley Jewelry who sells Plus Size Bangle bracelets. Not only are they awesome quality and hand crafted, but they are made for a bigger wrist! My favorite design is below! Check out her shop here!

Jess Jewelry

Its that time of year- finally spring is on it’s way! Spring is my favorite time to wear more jewelry- there is something about the warm weather that just makes me happier and want to dress even funkier. Accessorizing my look is one of my favorite parts of getting dressed!

The weather is perfect! Now in the mid 40’s and 50’s its perfect for a kick ass leather jacket! I am so excited to be working on my newest jacket project! Find out more by signing up for my newsletter here!

Stay Classy!

-A

 

Valentines Day, Shmalentines Day: Fun things to do this Valentines Day weekend!

Valentines Day, Shmalentines Day: Fun things to do this Valentines Day weekend!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe Valentines Day is right around the corner. It seems like New Years just happened! Time is flying by!

I have been searching the local scene for fun and interesting things to do this Valentines Day; single or taken, these adventures and things will sure make your day a special one!

Now I am not one for big expensive teddy bears and overpriced roses. To me, love is something that does not need to be shown on a day that society demands it to be. For me the special unexpected surprises mean 10000 times more then a crappy box of chocolates would on Valentine’s day. Those early morning coffee and breakfast in bed surprises, or late night ice cream, or spontaneous driving adventures, or a fresh bundle of flowers left on my night stand- those small things are the ones that mean the most.

Now- don’t get me wrong, don’t make the excuse to be a shut in this weekend (or do because it will literally be zero, yes 0 degrees this weekend)- But there are super fun, local,  and exciting things to do this Valentines weekend worth mentioning! If you want to brave the cold- look into my fabulous Valentines day/weekend Ideas below!

1.) The Get Mortified Live Show in Cambridge MA.

“Witness a night of adults telling stories about their lives by sharing their most mortifying childhood artifacts (diaries, letters, lyrics, poems, home movies)… in front of total strangers”

Human connection is the bonding experience that we all need! That is why Post Secret does so well- we all want to feel connected. What a great way to spend “Singles Awareness Day” then with other people who want to tell their mortifying stories! Go alone, or with a partner or friend and you will surely have a some laughs!

Get Mortified tickets here

2.) Paint Nite!

Never been to a Paint Nite? Single on Valentines Day and wanting to meet some other single ladies? This is the perfect place for you! Wine, dine and get artsy! Easy and fun painting instructions, and no experience needed! Just a fun night out! You even get to take home your masterpiece, and treasure it for always!! Fun paintings and locations to choose from all Valentines Day Weekend! Hurry- these tickets sell out quickly!

Paint Nite Tickets Here!

3.) Single Date Night “Netflix and Chill Style”

Who says you can’t “Netflix and Chill” by yourself! I don’t know about you, but a big bottle of wine and some alcoholic ice cream is a night to look forward too- that and Netflix! A new line of Alcoholic Ice Cream, called Tipsy Scoop is now available at your local Daddy’s Dairy!

If Daddy’s Dairy wasn’t already awesome enough with its 3 locations (Stoughton, Brockton and Randolph MA) and their offerings of over 200 soft serve flavors, now they have this amazing Adult Made Ice Cream! Flavor shown below is Strawberry Chocolate Martini Kisses- pair that up with a box of chocolates and a bottle of “Fridays Brand” Mudslide and you’re in business! Who says you can’t spoil yourself on Valentines Day! Treating yourself to a lovely romantic night is just what the doctor ordered!

Have a Hubby? There is plenty of this alcoholic ice cream to share! Just don’t fight over the remote!

More ice cream

4.) Naked at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt

What a lovely night at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston MA! This is not an episode of “Dating Naked”- Actually this is a version of Watson Adventure’s scavenger hunt! Risqué works of art and nude statues are on the scavenger list! Discover this amazing museum with a friend, or you significant other for a lovely and fun night at the museum!

$40, Friday, February 13, 6:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, February 14 and 15, 1 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, watsonadventures.com.

5.) Boston Wine School

Love and Chocolate? I think Yes! Explore chocolate and wine pairings, and dinner at this local Boston Wine School! A Saturday night event is perfect. I mean what’s more perfect then chocolate and wine anyway? Take your friends or your significant other- chocolate and wine- hell yes!

When:  Saturday, February 13, 6:30pm-9:30pm Boston Wine School, 1354 

Get your tickets here

6.) How to be Single- The Movie!

A movie is never out of style on Valentines Day, or any Friday night for that matter! Grab your girl friends and get ready for a belly full of laughs with this comedy hitting this screens today! Rebel Wilson is a total rock star- not just as a body positive advocate who recently launched a plus size clothing line with Torrid, but is a fabulous actress and hilarious to watch! You won’t want to miss this movie! Check your local movie theatre for listings!

Get your Braintree MA tickets here!- This AMC theatre has RECLINING/assigned Seating! Very very comfortable, and you don’t have to rush to try to get seats! Honestly there is no other way to go to the movies!

Just a few local ideas of how to spend this Valentines Day weekend! Whatever you do, stay warm and have fun! Speaking of the cold weather, did you know I am currently working on an exclusive plus size fashion jacket line? Get in the know! Sign up today! www.rose-riot.com

Stay Classy my friends!

-A

 

 

The Business of Fashion: Visiting NYC!

No rest for the weary! Fashion is non stop- a 24/7, 365 job!- Which makes me love it and some times not love it! So I took a “vacation” day from my 9-5 and took the Amtrak train to NYC on the hunt for fabulous fabrics and to meet up with some fashion friends!

My train left at 6:25am.. which was a bit earlier then I am use to. I did not over sleep this time, I did in fact make the train with plenty of time to spare. However, being January I did slip on the ice that  I apparently parked on top of, and barely didn’t hurt myself. This is my life! Its the first time in a while I was able to see the sunrise. I took a selfie and the sun was shining at just the right angle. It was a cool picture.

Me sunshine
Amtrak From Boston to NYC

I visited the DG Expo and Première Vision in NYC! Whenever I travel to NYC it always feels like coming back- almost as if I never left. Boston is my home, but New York is my city. I got amped up listening to Taylor Swifts “Welcome to New York“- don’t judge me! I might LOVE rock and roll, but Tswift has a special place in my heart!

My first stop- Starbucks. Because duh!. 6:25am train doesn’t require coffee because you sleep most of the time. However, I had arrived and now was the time to put my game face on. Luckily right next to the Pennsylvania hotel is a Starbucks, so I didn’t have to go very far! I went right into the DG Expo.

What I love about the DG Expo is that it is set up with new and small designers/brands in mind. Most of the minimums are low, there is fabric, trims, and even a few USA factories. There are also a bunch of useful resources! One of my favorites is the Fashion Law Studio based out of NY and run by Katharyn and Nima. What is great about them is they knew their craft!- Both Fashion and Law, and they make it really easy to understand. Sometimes I know all the legal mumbo jumble can give me a headache! But they work with new designers and make it easy to understand. They say if you can make a dress, then you can understand fashion law. I highly suggest checking them out!

Another part of the Expo I really enjoy is the fabric shopping! There is every fabric you could think of and then some! I love seeing all the new prints and fabrics available. One of my favorite parts is seeing the new trims! Buttons, and zippers, and more!

Fabrics at DG

Then I met up with a friend of mine that I met in college. She is kicking ass and taking names in NYC! I am so proud of her! She is designing full time for a juniors company! I love meeting up in NYC and talking about our college days, sewing for hours on end in our studio! It was a great time! I miss college sometimes. If my college had a reunion I will go. I graduated with only 7 other people in my Fashion Design class! (Because its not as easy as TV shows like Project Runway make it out to be!) It felt like we were in college again, at the end of the day, when we swung by a Fabric shop and took home at least 100 swatches! I just love fabrics; seeing them, feeling them, your mind just starts to go crazy with ideas!

Fabric swatching is part of my development process. Sometimes the fabrics tell you what they want to be, and other times you are finding a fabric to fit already preconceived design.

I am currently working on a new jacket line specifically made and fit for the plus size woman. Check out my progress here and get in the know! www.rose-riot.com I am very excited because I found lots of fabric options for the new line! I can’t wait until the swatches come in the mail! Check out some of my other pictures from NYC here!

Then I went over to Pier 94 to Première Vision.  They had global manufacturers, leather, fabrics and accessories from all over the world. I am pretty such France was represented- as all I could here was French! And maybe a bit of Italian.

PV1

The trends were fun to see, and all the new fabrics and especially the prints! A fashion designer at the trade show is like a kid in a candy shop! I want it ALL! And as a business person my budget quietly reminds me, I am here to order swatches to start.. and then we will see. Another favorite part of attending these Expos and trade shows is meeting new people. I even met another plus size fashion designer! How cool is that? Its VERY cool, because true plus size fashion designers are far and few between, and we need to stick together!

After a quick trip to the fabric store, I was on my way back to Penn station! Time flies when your fabric sourcing! It will be another 6 months before the trade shows pop up again! But not to fret- there is still Tex World, and City Source coming up in the next few days!

NYC night.jpg

That’s the life of a fashion designer for ya! And then it was home to bed, ready to get back to my 9-5 this morning. It was a struggle, but I did it. You push through. You make it work because it means something to you, because you don’t have a choice. Your success or failure begins and ends with you. So I got my ass out of bed this morning.. dragging my feet, and went to my bread and butter job. I am not going to lie, the trade shows are the fun part, the exciting traveling, meeting new people, seeing new fabrics. But these are the things I look forward too, because all of a sudden, I was boarding the train.

Life happens to fast- don’t forget to enjoy it!

 

Stay classy and sassy!

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

Oh, Hello Winter!

Hello again!

And welcome back to the Koker Chronicles!

Well it finally snowed outside! Below is a picture of a tree in my back yard last night. Granted we only got about 2-3inches of snow- thank god! I was in no mood to shovel last night! But it was a beautiful snow- the kind of snow that has large snowflakes! My dog- baby beagle named Bailey- had a great time! He loves the snow! Last winter,- the record breaking 110″ inches of snow Boston got, amounted to over 7 feet at the end of my drive way!

We were outside shoveling yet another two feet- yes FEET of snow- and all of a sudden, here comes Bailey- he walked right over my fence and right into my driveway! I was so grateful we were outside, or else he could have run away! But we got him and ushered him back into the yard. But then I had to dig a path way between the fence and the back yard. There was so much snow between my drive way and the back yard it created a snow mountain that he just climbed right over!!

winter tree 1.13.16

Luckily there has been no shoveling quite yet, well maybe a little the other week, but that doesn’t count- it was mostly ice! Here is a picture from my car windshield of all the little snow flakes! You can actually see the little flakes! I love images like these! This is the beautiful part of winter. One of my favorites was like last night, when the tree branches get covered in snow and it sticks! It just looks so peaceful.

snowflakes

Winter is only beginning- we have until about early April before we can even hope for true spring! Luckily I am all set and have my winter coat, ear wrap and boots!- And a windshield scraper!

You know what I am currently obsessed with? This ear warmed reversible head band from Torrid!! I got this a few months ago in their new Braintree, MA (South Shore Plaza) store. Unfortunately I cannot find it currently online, but they might still be around in store! Go check it out! Personally I like wearing the black background side on the outside- but I think its really cool that it is reversible!

reversible ear headband

Luckily we really haven’t had a winter- up here in Boston/New England. I know the rest of the country has had crazy weather!! I saw all the flooding and storms! And that huge tornado down in Texas a few weeks ago! It was only a mile from where I was born! CRAZY!

We barely snuck out of a blizzard the other day- it was 60 degrees! in January! We got pouring rain- and it easily would have been at least a foot or more of snow! We got by on that one! But we have at least minimal 12 weeks before winter is a passing memory! I recently went through my photos- since Facebook now has a memories section that pops up in my feed- not sure if this is a good thing or bad. But anyway- I stumbled upon a picture of my puppy next to the icicle that was on my house- this time last year, that was his size!

bailey and ice

I am not sure how we survived that winter! It is certainty one for the records! Hoping and praying we don’t see that amount of snow!

At least I have a winter coat to get me through the winter! Did you know that I am launching a Plus Size Jacket Line next fall? Sign up here and gets all the deets!

http://www.rose-riot.com

Stay Classy!

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

Holiday Dresses you can’t live without!

Hello! First I want to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday! Happy belated Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, or whatever which holiday you plan on celebrating- have a happy one!

New Years always seems to be the time for a little extra glimmer and glamour in your life! I always had a hard time with trying to find something to wear and that fit! Plus Size shopping, especially around the holidays was always challenging- but now there are many different options out there!

Some of my favorites are from Eloquii and Torrid. I just love a little shimmer and shine! Get the Eloquii look here! Get the Torrid look here!

holiday dresses

This sequined fabric seems to be the fabric and shine of the season this year! The placement on the Torrid dress is nice because its beneath the waist and the bow adds a hint of cute! I have had a similar dress in the past but the sequins were at the bust, and it scratched up my arms! Not cute.

The Eloquii dress has a shine to it, but it is part of the fabric, in small coated squares, almost giving off a reptile look. I am not one that likes to wear a totally bare shoulder dress- but if this is you look- you rock it! I prefer straps myself. I do like the arm arms pictured here in the Eloquii look- appropriate for the time of year.

However this year you might even be able to rock these dresses without any kind of over coat- since it will be 68 degrees here (in New England-MA) on Christmas Eve! How crazy is that! With the heat wave, I imagine New Years will be just as warm!

Even though the holiday dress options out there were many, I still decided I wanted to make myself a dress.  And honestly, I made it, because I could- so why not? I always seem to be looking for the perfect dress but never being able to find it! Well I stumbled upon this amazing gold shimmy coated ponte fabric. Its amazingly comfortable and its stretchy and it adds just a hint of shine and sparkle without being overwhelming. AND I don’t have to worry about being scratched with sequins or losing sequins off my dress! Like my dress? You can get it too! Check it out below!

amanda gold instagram

There are limited quantities available! Check it out here and gets yours today! Sizes 14-32! Limited Time use code: HOLIDAY50 for 50% off ANY dress in my shop! Order by tonight at Midnight (EST) and get it before Christmas! I don’t know about you but I love metallics this season!

I would love to see what dress your wearing to your holiday party this season! Add a picture with a comment below!

Did you know I am also working on launching an exclusive plus size jacket line that will be manufactured ethically in the USA?- Check it out here and be in the know! www.rose-riot.com

Tweet at me, Facebook me, or post a comment and let me know you signed up, and I will give you a special coupon code for my dress shop!

Stay Classy my friends and have a wonderful holiday!

-A

© Copyright Rose Riot 2016

 

It all begins with a sketch..

Hello! Welcome to the Koker Chronicles! I renamed my blog- as this is the beginning of my journey- my chronicles if you will. (And my last name is Koker, so it just kina fit). I want to take you into my world of fashion design and the makings of a made in the USA, Plus Size Fashion Brand and Company. Here I will show you my behind the scenes of what it is to really launch a brand and make it work, and of what it takes to get there.

As the title of my blog post today states, it all begins with a sketch. When I first went to fashion design school (Mount Ida College in Newton, MA), I always started with a sketch first. I always had this vision in my head of what I wanted to create- I could see it. My sketching skills weren’t the best- but that was what fashion school was for- honing and perfecting my skills and learning new techniques to justify the visions in my head and realize them on paper.

I have always loved jackets- there was something about them that made me feel strong, and powerful and chic. In fashion school I would make one of my favorite tailored jackets- it was an ivory jacket with forest green contrast cuffs, collar, and buttons. God I loved that coat. I wished that I had made it in MY size. My model was beautiful, and a size 8. The jacket fit her perfectly.

1Ivory Coat 2009

 See it pictured above. Its a lovely jacket and I did spend a lot of time on it. But it got me thinking- why couldn’t I have this jacket in MY size? So, I started sketching..
sketch 2
This jacket would translate just fine into a size range that is plus size (14-28). I might even change the colors. Now that I think of it, I believe the original design was intended to be black and white, or white and black, but due to time constraints of college and deadlines, I ended up going for this ivory and forest green combo.
I love sketching. Its one of my favorite parts of the design process. I think one of the hardest things for me to accept was how the design process changes over time through development. Sometimes what looks good on paper doesn’t actually look good in 3D, or vice versa. Sometimes the fabric you find just doesn’t want to be molded into the design you envision. The hardest part of design for me was letting the design transform into what It needed to be; not being so stuck on your initial design. Sometimes the transformation was even better than what you expected- that’s the fun of it.
sketch 1
Keep an eye out for more sketches!
Did you know I am launching a Plus Size Jacket Line that will be manufactured right here in the USA? Sign up here www.rose-riot.com and be the first to know!
Stay Classy!
-A
© Copyright Rose Riot 2016