How Self-Made Clothing Designer Alyssa Nicole Literally Does It All – Forbes

Alyssa Nicole Spring 2017

Alyssa Nicole

Alyssa Nicole Spring 2017

Alyssa Casares has created a perfect—if small and controlled—storm in mr fashion brand Alyssa Nicole, a line of ethereal, feminine, wearable-anywhere dresses, skirts and tops.

“I can post a selfie and sell a dress,” the designer told me recently when we met for coffee in San Francisco’s South of Market district. With nearly 30k followers on Instagram and her own thriving blog, Casares described her finely-tuned process of marketing and building her brand almost entirely on her own—and with some help from her mother who has been a huge supporter since Casares started out back in high school, making prom dresses for her friends.

Over the past decade, she has maintained a laser-focus on her customer, launching a spring and fall collection each year and selling her designs online—all while earning a degree in fashion design from Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in 2013.

Casares occasionally employs design assistants but often drafts, cuts, and sews the garments entirely on her own. Orders ship in one week or less. I’m not sure you could find a faster (or more personal) made-to-order situation.

Alyssa Nicole Spring 2017

Alyssa Nicole

Alyssa Nicole Spring 2017

Clients also have the option to make special requests. Want that hem a little longer? Sleeves shorter? Just make a note in your order. Or, schedule an in-person fittings if you’re in the San Francisco area—the service is free if you order four or more pieces.

Her small productions use only deadstock fabric—leftovers from the bigger fashion houses, which means a sustainable process and gorgeous materials. “I use a lot of cotton and silk which are natural fibrers, and that’s also in line with my aesthetic.”

This 25-year-old may have a decade of designing under her belt, but she’s just getting started. In March, she began offering home decor pieces made by SF Bay Area artisans in her online shop.  It’s all part of her plan to become a lifestyle brand and take over the world. Read our interview below to learn about her punk rock past, her secret spot for taking gorgeous photos, and her weakness for cowboy fashion.

Let’s start at the beginning, how did you get started in fashion design?

“I started my line when I was still in high school, and I was designing collections with the idea of getting into an art school—selling prom dresses to my friends and that kind of thing. Also I wanted to get an early start to my portfolio. And then I went to FIDM for fashion design.”

Were you releasing seasonal collections the entire time you were in school?

“Yeah, next year I will have designed a seasonal collection every single year for 10 years. I can’t even believe that, isn’t it nuts? Spring and fall every year.”

Yes that is nuts! I’m imagining that was not typical among your classmates.

“No. No one else was putting out a line while they were in school.”

Alyssa Nicole Spring 2017

Alyssa Nicole

Alyssa Nicole Spring 2017

What drove you to continue to do that all through school?

“I just knew I wanted to pursue a career in fashion design. There was a time when I first started school, after I graduated from high school, and I was really overwhelmed with orders on Etsy and my online shop and I had to take a break. But I’m driven to continue doing it now because I’m lucky in that I’ve built a customer base and after so long, people are still buying things every season. I feel really lucky to have that. My clients and my customers have expectations that I’m going to put something out every season.

Having a line isn’t a part time thing—it’s exhausting but I love it. I can’t imagine not designing.”

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