StylePortfolios: Madison Mishak
What is your employment status?
MM: Freelance Designer
What is your official job title?
MM: Senior Sweaters Designer – Freelance
Please summarize your professional career in 1 to 3 sentences; what should everyone know about you?
MM: I am a sweaters expert who has a passion for all things design. I love creating strategic color palettes, artful stripes and reinventing both stitches and fabrications for each season I bring to life. I have most notably designed for Macy’s, Kenneth Cole, Jones New York and Eileen Fisher.
Describe what you do?
MM: I’m best known for my ability to translate collection knitwear pieces into easy to wear styles for the masses. I am very deadline driven as well as very experienced at designing into any price point! My portfolio is the product of 5 years in the trenches, filled with valuable lessons learned. Equally comfortable with hand and Illustrator sketching, my designs succeed because I remain focused on every detail while ensuring my team and overseas partners have the resources necessary to achieve development milestones.
Why did you choose to be a designer?
MM: I have always had a love for both art and fashion and being a designer is the perfect combination of the two.
What steps did you take to become a designer?
MM: I originally wanted to study at Parsons, but being from Colorado my parents weren’t keen on the idea of me going to school in NYC at 18. After tons of college tours and research I decided on Iowa State University. During my 3 1/2 years there I had the opportunities to study Apparel Design, study abroad in Florence with a focus in Industrial Knitwear and intern in NYC my last two summers. I am very happy with the path that I took and am so proud of all my accomplishments on my way to where I am today.
What is the best/most challenging part of your job?
MM: I would have to say that the best part of my job is definitely conceptualizing and creating styles. I love being involved in concept and color meetings as well as sitting down and sketching into ideas for the line.
The most challenging part of my job is definitely working to find a costing solution to expensive styles that I have designed. Sometimes that fancy cable you love just isn’t affordable and it takes some time to settle on an idea that may be similar but more cost efficient.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
MM: Probably some other career that is a creative outlet! Maybe interior design, jewelry design or random, but real estate.
How did you get started in design?
MM: My first memory of being in love with art was in Kindergarten. We were supposed to illustrate ourselves in a big yellow hat like Curious George. I sketched myself in a giant ballgown underneath that big yellow hat and ever since I have pursued art and taken all the classes I could to further my drawing and painting skills.
What do you like about what you do?
MM: Every single day is different and I love that its unpredictable while being consistently creative!
What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
MM: People always think that what I do is more glamorous than it is. Behind my cool job title is a ton of meetings, merchandising strategy and repeat styles that I don’t necessarily love anymore!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
MM: In 10 years I see myself being a Design Director of a brand’s sweaters category.
What sparked your interest in design?
MM: I absolutely love creating outfits and have always loved art. During High School I was looking at college majors and knew that I needed to do something creative and I settled on design. As for my sweaters specialty, I took a semester long intensive industrial knitwear course in Italy, and knew from the first week that the category was something I wanted to pursue.
How has your work evolved since you began your career?
MM: The systems that we use are ever evolving. I started out in the industry using excel tech packs that have since changed into Web PDM TPs and now PLM.
Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
MM: I usually stay away from scarves or any type of chunky accessories.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
MM: Right now is an interesting time in fashion and the world due to Covid-19. Right now I am designing into Fall 2021 and the fashion space is really lacking any inspiration for future cardigans. This is challenging in a new way and forcing me to be even more creative than normal.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
MM: The biggest lesson that I have learned is that hard work will propel you further in your career. Nothing can beat hard work and dedication, especially when continuing to learn about and immerse yourself in a specialty such as knitwear.
What advice would you give to young designers?
MM: Learn as much as you can from your mentor. Ask all the questions! You never know how long you have to learn from someone who has mastered their craft.
What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
MM: I would like to find a new permanent role.
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
MM: I am not necessarily superstitious, but I would never sign a contract during mercury retrograde… So maybe I am?!
What’s your motto?
MM: Everything happens for a reason. Corny, but I firmly believe that I am where I am today because everything that’s lead me here.
Pleased to meet you. I’m a midwesterner from Colorado who has called herself a Manhattanite for five years—long enough to have a pretty complex, love-hate relationship. (Love being an Emmy Squared pizza and hate being the Times-Square subway platform at 6pm).
Ever since I can remember, art and design have been my thing. Whether it was drawing myself in a ballgown with bows in kindergarten, taking painting classes all through high school, or illustrating figures in Italy, it’s been my safe space. I was blessed to be able to intern in New York City twice during my college summers for Haute Hippie and Eileen Fisher and was so incredibly eager to get to work after graduation. Now, as a professional designer, I love nothing more than being that creative mind behind the sweaters that you buy in stores and online.
5 years ago, after college, I permanently relocated to NYC. I briefly returned to Eileen Fisher as a freelance design assistant before finding a permanent position with Global Brands Group. I worked as an Assistant Sweaters Designer for GBG for three years and during that time I gained valuable sweaters experience while working on 3+ brands. Most recently I had the opportunity to work for Macy’s in their Women’s RTW Private Brands division as a Sweaters + Wovens Designer.
I am very deadline driven as well as very experienced at designing into any price point! My portfolio is the product of 5 years in the trenches, filled with valuable lessons learned. Equally comfortable with hand and Illustrator sketching, my designs succeed because I remain focused on every detail of my designs while ensuring my team and overseas partners have the resources necessary to achieve development milestones.
It’s been my privilege to train several talented Assistant Designers whose successful careers began as members of my team.
I am currently seeking Women’s Sweaters Design opportunities in New York City.