GET TO KNOW GIRLBOSS GRANT RECIPIENTS, ALICIA RHODES AND NATASHA ENDREI
Hi Alicia and Natasha! Where did you grow up? How did it shape who you are/the work you do today?
N: I grew up in a small suburb outside of Cleveland, Ohio. When I was growing up I was very artistic. I loved sketching, loved painting and photography but didn’t want to do any of those as a career. In highschool when it came to the dances, I couldn’t find a dress that was exactly what I wanted, so I started making my own.. and it just built from there and lead me to FIDM and then on to be an Apparel Designer.
A: I grew up in Northern California in a suburban town called Pleasanton. I was always doing crafts and artistic things growing up. It’s funny watching old home videos now of me as a toddler and seeing how I’ve always had this artsy side to me. I started realizing I wanted to be in the fashion industry when I was in 8th grade after doing a career project on a fashion designer. I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do in this field but it propelled me into setting my goal to attend FIDM.
Did you go to college? If so, where did you study and what did you get out the process?
US: We both did go to college, and we actually went to the same college, The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) though ironically we never met there!
N: I completed 3 degrees while at FIDM. 1. Merchandise Product Development 2. International Manufacturing and Product Development 3. Business Management
Each degree was different, and I personally loved my time at FIDM, they’re like family to me. I learned so much from design, to international business, and then also Business Management which has become such a benefit as we’ve started our business. I made so many connections with other creative minds, as well as industry professionals and it really set me up well to succeed in this industry. Special thank you to Laura Gorham, a pivotal woman in my life, and a huge part of my FIDM journey.
A: Yes, I studied Merchandise Product Development at FIDM. It truly was the best experience. I was very focused while in school and made every second there count. I loved working on all of the projects and the patternmaking classes really spawned my love for the art of pattern making and technical design. I never would have thought that I’d love fractions & decimals as much as I do now!
Who was your hero or greatest inspiration growing up?
N: I think the women in my family were most inspiring growing up. Between my mother Patricia, and grandmothers Nana and Ardie, and great grandmother Mimi, I had a huge support of love and brigade of creativity around me. Because of these women I learned to sketch, paint, sew, crochet and knit. All those “hobbies” we did together growing up I believe engrained a love for creativity inside me, that unfolded as I’ve matured into a flourishing career. I am truly blessed to have such loving and amazing women in my life.
A: My Nani was definitely the biggest inspiration growing up. She is the one who bought me my first sewing machine and taught me at a young age about sewing, fabrics, embroidery, appliques and different techniques. Some of my greatest memories growing up are being in her sewing room playing around with all of her sewing machines and going to the fabric store with her. I definitely attribute my career now to her because of all she taught me. She was an amazing woman and is greatly missed.
What inspires you now?
N: The amazing and motivating people around me, all things vintage, music, and nature. A: My family who is incredibly supportive and reading success stories of fellow entrepreneurs.
How did the idea for Pliable Pattern come about?
US: The idea came about when we were working on a garment pattern using the traditional pattern-making way with dot paper, muslin and manila paper. Unable to effectively mold the dot paper to the model form, we knew that there had to be a more efficient, effective and overall better way to create a garment pattern - so we embarked on a journey to create the product that is now called Pliable Pattern.
?How did you develop the idea into a business?
US: Once we came up with the idea of Pliable Pattern, it really was a snowball effect. We immediately started doing our research, and filed for our patent (which was time sensitive) along with all our business paperwork. We really had an “ah-ha” moment and ran with things full-force. We both said we’d never start a business unless we were 110% passionate about it and the products we created. Pliable Pattern sparked that inside of us, and Aeline was born.
What advice would you give to girls who want to do your job?
N: First and foremost. Make sure you really love it! This is a competitive industry and a hard business, so make sure you’re really ready to invest yourself. Secondly, always be willing to learn, and open to change.
A: My number one bit of advice would be that you have to have a thick skin. Things in this industry get tough sometimes and it’s a matter of learning to brush things off of your shoulders and keep pushing forward to pursue your goal.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're not working?
N: I love people.. So in my free time I like spending it with positive, great people in my life.. What we do is secondary. I’m down for a little bit of anything adventurous, and great people makes it perfect.
A: I have a dog named Bentley and I love snuggling up with him watching shows like Ellen, Shark Tank and Modern Family. This, of course, includes a pint of my favorite ‘Almond Dream’ ice cream!
What are you planning next (in work/life)?
N: I’m just focused on continuing to grow as a designer, and definitely focusing on taking Aeline to the next level. Working to quit the day job and running Aeline full-time is on the 'Goals' list.
A: In life I’m planning to keep striving to be the best ‘me’ that I can be, make time to take care of myself and make time for the people that matter the most to me. In work I’m planning to continue growing Aeline into the dream both Natasha and I see for it. We’ll do whatever it takes to make this company succeed.