Thursday, August 15, 2013

Interview: Jennifer Fukushima, designer & CEO

Name and age: 
Jennifer Fukushima, 28

How long have you worked for/with Paper People Clothing?

I founded the line in 2001.  I was in grade 11 at the time.  I grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario where the only shopping options were chain stores or the local Salvation Army Thrift Store.  After taking a trip out west with my best friend's family she and I decided to start making our own messenger bags.  I sourced a bunch of materials from the thrift store - vintage curtains, upholstery, old pants - anything I could get my hands on.  40 bags later, Paper People Clothing was born.  

Two years later I headed to Toronto to attend Ryerson University for fashion design.  I started selling my handbag line on consignment at various local boutiques.  The handbag line soon morphed into a clothing line which was my real passion.  

What is your favourite season for production at Paper People Clothing?

My favourite season is fall/winter because I love dark/rich colours and textures and I love layering!  Coming up for fall/winter 2013/14 we've discover a new line of eco fabrics we'll be working with.  They're designed and manufactured in Italy from recycled fibres and they have all our favourite colours and fibres!  Think rich greens, purples and burgundies in luxurious wools and super soft, light cottons!

What is your schedule on a daily basis?

My routine really varies depending on the time of year.  In December & January we work on designing fall/winter for the following year.  So we collective inspiration, do sketches, make patterns and sew samples. One of my favourite new places to go for inspiration is Pinterest.  You can take a look at my different inspiration boards and follow me on here.

In early February we do two photo shoots so that we can put together a catalogue.  I've been working with my friend and photographer Carmen Cheung  for about 12 seasons (6 years) now.  Wow does time ever fly!  Carmen is a pleasure to work with.  I tend to get really stressed about the photo shoots but Carmen is very relaxed and confident and her style works really well with our line.  

When Carmen is done with the photos she passes them on to our graphic designer/web designer Gigi Wong.  I started working with Gigi when she was a student in the Ryerson University Fashion Communications Program.  Gigi designed our new logo & hang tags as well as our new website.  I love how Gigi is always able to give us the look & feel we're aiming for.  I get her to update the look of the site for each season and we're working on adding some new features soon.

 After Gigi finishes the online look book it's time to start taking orders.  This involves inviting our current clients to view the line or meeting with them in person if possible so that they can touch, feel and try on the clothes.  It also involves reaching out to new potential clients and cold calling to see who else we can get on board!  

In amongst all that we have production (think material sourcing, cutting & sewing), the online shop, blogging and so many other things!  

It's hard to believe I used to do all these things myself!

Do you have any hidden talents, we the staff at Paper People don't know of?

In my spare time I like to play and listen to music.  I learned to play guitar around the same time I started my business actually.  It's really more of a hobby for me and it helps me relax.  Once my roommate is out the door I will be strumming and wailing away out of earshot.

On the weekends I like to go out to the Silverdollar or the Horseshoe Tavern to watch my friends' bands play.  Wicked Witches are a garage rock 6 piece who will haunt you with their uniquely catchy riffs.  Stray Feathers are a handsome gaggle of country bumpkins who can be heard serving up a premium blend of country/folk/rock.  A big thanks to Jesse & Michael for lending us some instruments for our FW13/14 photo shoot which we shot at the Dakota Tavern.
Wicked Witches.  Artwork by Matt Caudle (I'm assuming?)

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