trust your gut
Schaumin Chanel Alexander is an independent Fashion Illustrator and Designer, and author of the book: The Fashion Designer’s Ultimate Quick-Step Guide to Photoshop and Digital Painting. With an unrelenting passion for both fashion and fine arts, Schaumin went on to pursue a degree in Fashion Design and Marketing. In doing so, she was introduced to world world of digital design, and has been hooked ever since. While attending college, Schaumin had the opportunity to intern for well-known companies such as Macy’s Merchandising Group in New York city as well as JCPenny’s.
After receiving her BFA in Fashion Design and Marketing, Schaumin used her digital design skills to assist small start-up companies as well as independent designer’s with their specific design needs. Early April 2013, Schaumin relocated to Southern California to gain more hands on industry experience, by working for Forever 21 and a private label denim company as an Assistant Designer. It was around that time that the conception of Design In Session took place, and Schaumin quickly realized that teaching her digital design skills can really make a difference in Fashion Design. Currently residing in her hometown just outside of Metro-Atlanta, Schaumin continues to work with individual clients by providing her expertise and services.
What should everyone know about you?
SA: My core career interests are in fashion design, but my experience in the fashion industry and love for Art as well as limitless creative expression often leads to additional titles under my belt. Outside of traditional fashion design, I freelance my illustration services, and also do a bit of makeup artistry on the side for fun. I am constantly learning and growing, and as I evolve I am sure my career path will do so as well!
How would you describe what you do?
SA: Right now I work with primarily startup companies to produce solid cohesive collections. I usually consult them first by starting at the beginning by finding their brand’s voice. In essence, what does your brand stand for and how do you want the consumer to feel when wearing them. I then help them to create a line that is closely aligned with their values, but most importantly relevant to the consumer’s needs. Sometimes I provide additional services such as illustration, sourcing, and general product development activities such as tech packs and engaging in fit meetings.
Why did you choose to be a designer?
SA: I have been honestly designing since the age of 12! I have always been interested in the process of transformation, and I believe the easiest way to transform ourselves is through thoughtful exploration of fashion. In high school I found myself sketching out ideas for looks I would like to see myself in, and eventually filled several binders with my designs!
What steps did you take to become a designer?
SA: I went to school for Fashion Design and Marketing in Atlanta, GA. During that time I made it a point to soak in everything I could about the world of fashion, and the art of design. During my last year I had the opportunity to intern with Macy’s Merchandising Group as a technical design intern, and this only intensified my desire to work in the industry.
Best/Most Challenging part of your job?
SA: The best part about my job is taking a design from idea to live product, and seeing the excitement on my client’s faces at the end of a successful project.
The most challenging part of being a freelance designer is acquiring the right clients, and dealing with rejection from clients. On the flip side, I found that overcoming these challenges have made me a better designer, and business woman overall!
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
SA: I would most likely be a makeup artist and entrepreneur. I love the process of product development, and being behind the scenes where most of the magic happens.
How did you get started in design?
SA: After I graduated with my BFA in Fashion design and marketing, I quickly realized how difficult it was to get a job in the industry, and almost lost faith altogether! I began to work at basic office jobs feeling very much unfulfilled and had the realization that if you are not willing to experience some form of rejection, then you are not ready for true success! I put the marketing/business side of my brain to work, and created a magazine titled: “Ten Reasons Why You Should Hire Me” by SchauminChanel, and sent it out to all the companies I would like to work for in LA. A few weeks later, I got an offer from Forever 21 corporate, and the rest is history!
What do you like about what you do?
SA: What I like most about what I do is witnessing the fluid process of change and evolution in the fashion industry. I love to think beyond what’s directly in front of me, and forecast trends in the near future based in part on intuition as well as a strong understanding of the core consumer.
What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
SA: I find that people think that being a fashion designer or owning a fashion label is fun, cool, and easy. Sure it is fun and cool to create beautiful garments, and establish a brand; but it is far from easy! It takes a lot of hard work, patience and effort to be even remotely successful. The design process no matter how fun comes with some setbacks: late nights, long design meetings, working around the delicate egos of other designers and directors only begins to scrape the surface!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
SA: I see myself as well traveled entrepreneur with a fashion label of my own. I also see myself as a mentor to upcoming designers future business owners.
What sparked your interest in design?
SA: Music hands down sparked my interest, and of course every fashion publication I could get my hands on!
How has your work evolved since you began your career?
SA: My work has definitely evolved since I began my career, and I think it’s due to having a merchandiser perspective In mind when I design. Instead of designing what I want I delve deeper into the concept of the person wearing that design, and how it fits to their needs. My style is still very contemporary and true to me, but also speaks more to my audience!
Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
SA: My basic rule for any type of clothing, footwear, and accessories is to experiment to find what works with you! I don’t really have a black and white list of things I avoid wearing. Fashion is what you make of it!
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
SA: Right now I am fascinated with the idea of foreign travel and seeing most of the world if I can. I love to learn about different cultures, hear their music, eat their food, and see their unique points of view. This inspires me to expand my design inspirations outside of my immediate view, and look at my process with a new perspective.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
SA: I have learned that it is so easy to get into your own way, and slow down your journey to success. I also learned that there are so many opportunities out there in the world of Fashion, and sometimes you have explore several of them in order to find what works for you.
What advice would you give to young designers?
SA: I would definitely advise young designers to get as much internship experience as possible to get a feel for what they can expect in the industry. Always go above and beyond expectations, and think outside the box when it comes to landing you dream design role.
What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
SA: I would like to take some to travel and explore to evolve my design perspective even further. I think sometimes standing back to reflect momentarily will give you access to a wealth of knowledge and understanding that you wouldn’t have acquired if you were doing everything else. Lastly, I would love to add more value to young designers with my blog site Design In Session, which focuses on mastering the process of fashion design, one sketch at a time!
Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
SA: Always trust your gut. Sometimes we allow our egos to get in the way of what our hearts want. Sometimes your first answer, that lingering feeling you get about any important decision usually means something.
What’s your motto?
SA: The best quote I stumbled upon this year was by a man named Sir Robinson, who specializes in creativity: If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never create something original! In other words, take risks, color outside the lines and be un-apologetically you at all times!
SA: I also teach two courses on Skillshare.com, and self-published my first book: “The Fashion Designer’s Ultimate Quick-Step Guide to Photoshop and Digital Painting” which is a great resource for young designers as well! Skillshare is a platform that allows experts to teach project-based classes. My first published class is called: “Fashion Design with Soul” which focuses on designing from your own internal muse, and basically allows us to look at the process of Fashion Design through a spiritual lens. The second class is called “Photoshop for Fashion” which focuses on transforming your fashion illustrations in minutes with Adobe Photoshop. I love to learn and teach, so I definitely will be creating more classes and other resources for those who may not be able to pay lofty tuition costs, but still want to learn about fashion!
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