By Diana Chuong
Fashion designer Sophia Marie discovered her passion for designing clothes and draws experience in the fashion industry as she prepares to open her own boutique store, “Sophia Marie,” in April.
Marie will be introducing her own clothing and jewelry to the public. She said the boutique will be fun, spunky, and decorated with dried flowers everywhere to create a soft-yet edgy aura.
“I want to create a brand that’s just my own designs, my own inspiration. It’s exciting in this industry. You’re able to make people feel confident and happy in what they wear. It’s very rewarding and I’m excited to create on my own and see where that goes,” Marie said.
Marie’s passion for fashion design sparked at a young age.
“Throughout my childhood I always loved fashion. My mom’s a hairdresser and she travels the world hairstyling for fashion shows. She would always come back with amazing photographs and stories of her journey,” Marie said. “As a kid I looked through her photos I would say, ‘I want to do that! I want to travel the world but I want to do it with clothes.’”
With inspiration and support from her parents, Sophia went to the Fashion Business Institute in Sydney, Australia. In school, the classes were intimate and small of about 20 students per class.
“Fashion in Australia is a niche industry. Australian designers only designed for Australian people,” Sophia recalled.
After a few years of working for magazines and fashion shows, she moved back to San Francisco. While Sophia had some money left over, her mom suggested going into business with her. Soon, they opened their own jewelry shop, “World Gate Jewelers.”
Inspiration for the name came from how the Golden Gate Bridge sets a connection from one location to another.
The jewelry pieces were made by designers from Greece and Australia, and “World Gate” links designers from all over the world to a business here in San Francisco.
Marie said their merchandise is high-end and hand made. “When people ask me why they should pay so much, I tell them it’s because the designers put their heart and soul into their product,” she said.
The pieces are artisanal vs. manufactured. For example, some of their pieces contain coral from the Mediterranean that are later dyed.
Marie said that being her own boss is fun, but at the same time it is a work involving a lot of trial and error. Past all the romanticism of having one’s own business, other factors need to be taken into account such as: how to “keep the ball rolling,” visualizing it financially, and planning how much time and money is going into building the business to make a profit.
“Business is 60% marketing and 40% talent. A lot of people have really great ideas but if you don’t know how to tell the world about it or introduce it in the right way then it can’t be known,” Marie said.
After having difficulty finding work with American designers and magazines, Sophia decided to strengthen her educational background by attending classes at City College.
Marie said guidance of her instructors got her through the challenges. They validated that it’s okay to struggle and take it one-step at a time because that’s part of the learning process.
She said the teachers she worked with were like parent-figures, taking students under their wing and teaching them step-by step. “When you express to your instructors that you have dedication and want to learn then they will help you in the outside world which is pretty awesome,” Marie said.
When asked what inspires her designs, Marie said how it’s a strange yet interesting and creative process. “I like to sit down and just close my eyes. I’m still for about 30 minutes in meditation- mode. Then, that’s when it hits me; it’s weird because I get my images through there, but I’m not trying to think or focus on anything,” she said.
Other parts of her inspirations come from still life and people she observed. She described her designs to be an edgy-romantic aesthetic: lace with leather/flowers with studs/silk with fishnets. Her designs are for girls who are feminine, but they’ve also got a little spunk about them: a bit of the good and the bad.
Marie said her ideas are also fueled by what’s going on in the world, “There’s a lot of rebellion, and fear but people have a lot of passion and drive. In this day and age that’s definitely what pushes us forward.”