A presentation on the apparel experiences and successes of Iowa State 2008 apparel, merchandising and design graduates Jennifer Jones and Beth Haskins was hosted Sunday in Morrill Hall.
Their work is featured in the “By Design: Process-Production-Profession” exhibit available for viewing to the public in the Textiles and Clothing Museum in Morrill Hall.
Jones and Haskins currently utilize their design backgrounds with the production of their individual out of home businesses. Jones works as an embroidery artist, focusing on beaded hand and tambour embroidery alongside her daytime job as a visual merchant. Haskins runs Babes in Stitches, a brand offering hand-knit apparel for infants and children. Haskins’ brand also creates adult lingerie and loungewear.
Both creators said they find their inspiration for their work came from experiences early on in their lives. The women reflected on knitting, crocheting, sewing and beading at young ages, traditions passed on by older generations in their families. They explained how these moments in their lives helped them to find their passions today.
The women shared their business beginnings with Sunday’s audience, providing advice to all aspiring designers. Throughout the event, the idea of starting somewhere and seeing where it goes was greatly encouraged, as starting with a product and building up the business from there will help with the flow of creativity and inspiration.
“You take what you learn in the industry or whatever job you end up in, and you can take that into what you do now,” Jones said. “It’s a similar timeline in a certain sense, but you have more freedom.”
Jones and Haskins said they have discovered inspiration can be found in many different places.
For Jones, she said much of her inspiration comes from her desire to be more on the art side of her creations rather than the ‘crafty’ side, which is how most people think of what she does as.
Jones talked about how thinking outside the box is very important to running a successful business and how it can still be done by observing how other artists are working and where they take their individual styles.
“There’s some really cool stuff out there,” Jones said. “I think, ‘Where would I want to go with this? What would be true to me? What do I like?’ It’s not just doing something that you think would be popular [...] Do what you enjoy the most.”
While staying on top of trends is important to Jones and Haskins, and they hope the work put into their creations is appreciated, the women said they find worrying about popularity is not necessary when it comes to their businesses.
Jones and Haskins said they try to keep in mind the importance of being unique. They advise future designers to avoid creating something if it doesn’t hold much meaning to them, but to do what others aren’t doing instead to create something people haven’t seen before.
In today’s world, one of the key aspects of their successful businesses is social media presence and building relationships both within and outside of social media.
Understanding the algorithms of social media and using connections to learn in different ways is essential to businesses that depend on the internet, but Jones and Haskins said it can be easy to go about utilizing social media in the wrong way.
The two women said creators should start their platform out slowly and build their way up naturally through friendships and connections rather than focus on gaining numbers quickly, as many businesses go through processes such as buying followers.
It may take longer to grow a business, but Jones and Haskins said the authenticity of naturally growing your social media presence makes it that much more of a personal experience for customers.
Jones and Haskins put importance on having healthy and friendly relationships. They said true engagement and personal friendships help a business to thrive, as they stay in touch with many connections they made years before their businesses were even an idea.
“Relationships are absolutely important. [...]” Haskins said. “One of the professors I went to school with has one of my cutest little models now. You just never know what those relationships could turn into.”
Jones used the example of a former fellow student, who now lives in China and has the assets to help with one of Jones’ upcoming projects.
Both women said they look forward to the future of their businesses and the potential they have. Jones plans on working on her advertisements, making patterns for embroidery available to customers and starting trims for brides. Haskins plans on taking time to discover the direction in which she wishes to take her work compared to what she’s focusing on currently.