StylePortfolios: Rachel Thomas
What is your employment status?
RT: Employed by Columbia Golf
What is your official job title?
RT: Apparel Designer
Please summarize your professional career in 1 to 3 sentences; what should everyone know about you?
RT: I’ve been in the licensed apparel industry for almost 15 years working for the most recognized brands in the world – including the Dallas Cowboys, Disney, Champion, Under Armour, Columbia, AT&T and more! I’m a collaborator and love to share my enthusiasm and passion.
Describe what you do?
RT: I’m currently a men’s and women’s golf apparel designer for Columbia Golf.
Why did you choose to be a designer?
RT: I’ve been sewing clothing since I was 9 years old. Being from Iowa, 4-H is a huge deal and it gave me so many great opportunities to cultivate my love for fashion at a very young age. I guess I’ve always known I wanted to be a designer!
What steps did you take to become a designer?
RT: In high school, I visited several different universities and design programs across the nation to see what might be the best fit. Several required portfolios and although I wasn’t a super strong illustrator, I practiced as much as I could and kept up with my sewing and 4-H.
I ultimately decided that I wanted to be versatile in such a competitive industry and double majored in both Merchandising and Design at the reputable Iowa State University in Ames, IA
After college, I worked retail until I could find a way into the Kansas City apparel industry. I got my big break working in customer service for a licensed apparel company called Gear For Sports who designs and prints for brands like Champion and Under Armour. I worked hard and made connections in their design department and waited for my chance to interview – and the rest is history!
What is the best/most challenging part of your job?
RT: The best part about my job is seeing people on the street wearing my designs! While working for the Dallas Cowboys, I would see my designs on a weekly basis – what a thrill!
The most challenging (but also the most rewarding) part of my job is the problem solving. Working with overseas factories to arrive at the best solution for costing or an upcoming deadline keeps me on my toes!
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
RT: Presenting/Selling clothing on QVC 😉
How did you get started in design?
RT: By starting at the bottom and being humble.
What do you like about what you do?
RT: The ability to create something meaningful with someone else’s tastes in mind.
What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
RT: That it’s a fluff job. Everyone wears clothes.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
RT: Inspiring and helping young designers start their own careers! I love being a mentor.
What sparked your interest in design?
RT: My mother. She sewed almost all of her clothes back in the 60’s and 70’s and I have always been so inspired by her style.
How has your work evolved since you began your career?
RT: I don’t let other’s opinions of my designs get to me – it motivates me, inspires me! And then they LOVE them.
Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
RT: I will never wear Crocs.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
RT: I am fascinated by influencers and the impact they have on fashion! Street style is always incredibly inspiring to me.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
RT: Personality is everything. Enthusiasm is hard to say “no” to when you’re pitching an idea.
What advice would you give to young designers?
RT: Be able to work well with others! Being a great teammate means you all rise together.
What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
RT: I’d love to work more with university apparel programs and especially graduating seniors.
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
RT: Absolutely! You create your own reality. Be kind and speak well of others.
Other (feel free to tell the readers anything about you that we didn’t ask)
RT: I’m a wife, mom of three (7, 4, 2), lousy cook and love Pilates!
I’ve been in the licensed apparel industry for almost 15 years designing collections for the most recognized brands in the world – including the Dallas Cowboys, Disney, Champion, Under Armour, Columbia, AT&T and more! I’m a collaborator and love to share my enthusiasm and passion.