Since I have been at First Class Fashionista I’ve never had the chance to do this, and I am so excited I get to share this experience with all the Fashionistas. I was given the opportunity to interview a Denver designer. I’m talking, a REAL designer.
Colorado native Stephanie Ohnmacht shared her story and experience with me, everything from growing up to what she’s doing today. “I lived on a farm.” Yes, this is how the interview started. Born and raised in Colorado, Stephanie found a particular interest in sewing between the ages of 5 to 7 years old. “I would sew outfits for me, outfits for my dog…” Sewing just seems to be a part of who she is. Now, there is one thing I have to let our readers know, not every designer has an affinity for sewing; meaning, some designers don’t like to sew and there are some that may not even know how. A prime example is myself. As most of you know, I’m attending the Art Institute and studying fashion design. I LOVE to design, but I HATE sewing. I know how to sew, I just hate doing it. Stephanie says she loves to sew and has sewn her whole life. “At age 13, I could sew a wool three piece suit.” I have to impress upon the readers of this article how INSANE that is. Three piece suits take a tremendous amount of time, skill and energy.
As a young adult, Stephanie made the decision to study and complete a business degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She later found herself auditioning for a mall runway show in Denver. Placing in the top 12 out of around 15 applicants, Stephanie Ohnmacht came in as runner up, and started her own line in 2007 called Smooch. The launch kept her busy. She did custom work and runway shows for five years. But as those of us in the fashion industry know, custom work can get old. For some designers, it becomes more of a chore than something that is truly enjoyed. So Stephanie O. moved away from custom work into the ready-to-wear scene.
Unlike many designers, Stephanie Ohnmacht finds her comfort zone within very tailored and structured garments. “I used to make my clothes look like they came off the rack.” Stephanie’s attention to detail is a calling card that not many local designers have in their arsenal. When asked to describe her look in one or two words she said, “Sophisticated Sassy” and then proceeded to add three more single words, “classic, tailored, feminine.” This was one of my favorite qualities about her, she couldn’t describe her work in one or two words. A good designer who loves their work, could write a whole textbook describing their look. Stephanie says that what sets her apart from other local designers is her top notch craftsmanship. “I line everything.” READERS: THIS TAKES FOREVER. After sewing in several linings myself, I can’t explain to you guys in words how upscale it is that she CHOOSES to line all of her products.
Everything but Ohnmacht’s pattern grading is done right here in Colorado. This is something that us as potential buyers have to take into account. Stephanie Ohnmacht is the quintessential definition of a LOCAL designer. Stephanie O. is supporting Denver’s economy and that, to me, is one of the most important qualities of a designer. I don’t want to go to a cute local boutique and buy something from a so called “local designer” and have the tag say Made in China. Even though Stephanie loves being a part of the Denver fashion scene, both her short term and long term goals revolve around expanding her business into multiple boutiques.
When asked what advice she has to offer anyone looking to break into this industry, she simply said networking.
Rounding off our interview, Stephanie O. ended with Denver is a great community, sharing that at least once a month she meets up with other designers to trade industry connections and brainstorm about how to best support the Denver fashion scene. Stephanie Ohnmacht’s designs are currently available at few boutiques in Colorado, including B’jewel in Aspen. Visit her website at www.stephanieodesigns.com.