StylePortfolios: Michele Sparks
What is your employment status?
MS: Employed by DanzNmotion by Danshuz
What is your official job title?
MS: Design Director
Why did you choose to be a designer?
MS: Honestly, I am not sure that I actually made a choice to be a designer. Some people are just wired to do certain things, and I followed my “wiring”, or passion.
What is the best/most challenging part of your job?
MS: The most rewarding part of my job is striving for styles that are not only current, but well made, well fitting, and made to support and enhance an athlete’s performance. The biggest compliment to me is when someone is baffled by the high quality they are getting for a reasonable price tag.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
MS: I enjoy observing current events and how they affect human behavior in the way of spending. I would probably be in fashion forecasting or working for NPD, providing market research.
How did you get started in design?
MS: I started off as a design intern for a freelance design company that specialized in activewear. They did projects for companies like Adidas, Fila, Head (tennis wear) & Pebble Beach (golfwear).
What do you like about what you do?
MS: I like seeing a garment go from a 2-D image to an actual 3-D piece of clothing. The ultimate is seeing someone that I don’t know wearing a design I had a hand in bringing to life. Consumers have many choices, but they chose a piece I designed and developed. That never gets old to me.
What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
MS: Unfortunately, some people (not all), you may encounter on the business side of the industry tend to think designers sit in their working space and draw pretty pictures with no clear objectives. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that. You have to look at your competition, what they’re offering as far as style and price, you should be looking for white space areas (what no one else in your space is offering), your designs need be functional, you need to deliver designs that sit into a pricing structure and are competitive, and you need to make sure every style in your assortment has a purpose.
What sparked your interest in design?
MS: My earliest memory is being six years old and consuming a Vogue magazine. I’ve had a healthy/ unhealthy relationship with magazine and book collecting ever since.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
MS: The industry, since I have started, has gone through a lot of changes (i.e. recessions and COVID 19). Be aware, going in, how your market segment will take on challenges like these. Is your market segment essential? How has it performed during past market lows? Be aware and take precautions.
What advice would you give to young designers?
MS: Have a plan! As you would approach a business venture, know your why, what you want to accomplish, and I would even go so far as to suggest you plan your exit strategy/retirement. Know when a position is no longer serving you and amicably move on. Save and invest along the way.
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
MS: The Golden Rule – Do onto others as you would have them do onto you. Another one, a little more crude, but specific to this industry is; “beware the toes you step on today, could be the a** you have to kiss tomorrow.” In essence, just be kind.
What’s your motto?
MS: Quality designs with attention to detail, be well made, well-fitting, and of great quality and construction.
Design Director of Apparel driving brand concepts and product vision through creative leadership in product strategy and brand management. Expertise in providing product design solutions and brand marketing strategies based to organizational objectives in an evolving global market. Multi-disciplined leader overseeing all phases of apparel development from concept through production; delivering quality, while ensuring financial objectives. Trusted advisor to key management on apparel and accessories product categories/lines; overseeing the creation of seasonal assortments and locating sourcing. Well-versed in recommending actions/opportunities related to licensing coordination, vendor relationships, partnership relations, quality control, line planning, time and action calendars, supply chain relations, and product cycle programs and product development; leading to streamlined business operations, revenue growth, and organizational success.