StylePortfolios: Joobi Lee
What is your employment status?
JL: Currently open to new and exciting opportunities in the fashion design industry.
What is your official job title?
Please summarize your professional career in 1 to 3 sentences; what should everyone know about you?
JL: I started my career in the fashion industry about 10 years ago. I have extensive experience such as working internationally in South Korea and the US and for various markets like high end brands, and big corporate brands along with small custom design brands. Also, I’ve showcased my own collections for NYFW and other local shows. These rich experiences have shaped me to be flexible to work in various situations. So, I can read customer’s needs easily and can work well under pressure.
Describe what you do?
JL: Currently, I’m working on a new collection. I’m usually inspired by the shape of different objects, which I easily find in my normal life – certain moods which reflect my thoughts, subjects which I’m interested in and my childhood memories. I’m also attracted to sudden thoughts which randomly pop up in my brain.
Why did you choose to be a designer?
JL: I’ve always been passionate about fashion since when I was a kid. I liked to play with garments by layering, draping, cutting and so on even before I knew about fashion. When I realized the same clothes could be different depending on how it was played and experimented with, I decided to be a fashion designer to embody the idea more.
What steps did you take to become a designer?
JL: For me, there were a lot of steps to become a designer. Under pressure from my family, I had to study business and international studies in my first college in South Korea but it wasn’t truly my calling. I always wanted to be a designer, so I worked for a fashion company in Seoul, without a fashion degree right away after I graduated, but then I moved to New York City a few years later for more opportunities. Because of my experience in New York, I attended a fashion school (Fashion Institute of Technology) for my second Bachelor’s Degree and have been working in this field in New York since then.
What is the best/most challenging part of your job?
JL: Fashion is very subjective. Some people may like my work, but some might not. Also, it depends on the target markets, the techniques, aesthetics and even the process of making sampling can be so different and diverse. So, designers need to have keen eyes to read the flow and needs of their customers and different markets.
What do you like about what you do?
JL: When I’m deeply motivated and inspired by something, I tend to keep thinking about it and turn my thoughts into artwork and fashion. Also, people love this. It’s fantastic that I can share my imagination and thoughts with people through my work. Because it is very pleasurable and exciting for me, I do design.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JL: That’s always hard to say! Because fashion is a very trendy market and is always evolving and changing fast. In the next 10 years, I believe it will be very different from what we see now. However, if the industry flow is similar to the current trends, I would like to be a creative director who leads prominent fashion houses. I think it would be exciting to branch out and explore other ways to succeed in this field.
How has your work evolved since you began your career?
JL: Since I began working in this field, I have grown tremendously. For example, I was only able to design a single piece of garment but then I eventually was able to think about designing a whole collection instead. Also, the process of design development has been easier to retain and comprehend. Quite honestly, I feel that something inside of me comes alive while understanding the process of designing.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
JL: It might sound cliché, but I believe that for people to shine in this field or anywhere in life, they have to develop a sense of confidence and excitement in themselves. I experienced being able to trust myself and be confident, and as a result, I’m satisfied with my work. I think art and designs are means of reflecting myself to people. So, if you cannot trust yourself, you cannot keep creating your art and showing this off to people. Because then, this art would not reflect who you really are.
What advice would you give to young designers?
JL: I love this question because in the last year, I trained and mentored students who are trying to start their fashion design careers, and I encouraged and supported them in finding their unique style. I truly believe that everyone is unique and that they just need to discover what drives them and motivates them to succeed. It starts with believing in yourself!
What’s your motto?
JL: Be yourself and be persistent. Also, trust your work and never give up. Have a big dream.
A creative and inspiring Women’s Wear Designer with professional experience in prominent fashion brands in New York and Seoul. She has presented her unique artistic designs in various shows and exhibitions, which included one of her collections that was featured in New York Fashion Week. She is skilled in Hard & Soft Woven and Cut & Sew Knit Design, which includes a broad range of design processes such as draping, sketching, and fitting, Adobe Photoshop and Illustration, and managing major fashion shows. She has a strong professional background in arts and design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) focused in Fashion/Apparel Design from Fashion Institute of Technology.