As a Tacoma, WA native, now living in San Francisco, I’ve spent most of my life fabricating and creating everything I could possibly get my hands on. My earliest memories are of me using my mom's scissors to cut my pants, just because I liked the sound of the sheers slicing through the fabric. Cutting fabric quickly become an obsession, and during my summers at my grandmas house, I would sneak into her sewing room, while everyone else was outside swimming, and cut swatches from her fabric stash so I could make doll dresses.
For high school, I attended Tacoma School of the Arts, where I graduated with a major in dance performance. Although I have since traded my dance shoes for sewing machines, my time as a dancer has inspired me to create clothing that dances with the wearer. I have since earned a Bachelor of Arts in technical fashion design, from the Academy of Art University, where I concentrated on the development of design through 3D techniques. The progression of the body and the way the fabric transforms through movement is the biggest inspiration for my designs. Rather than starting from a flat sketch, I generally start with fabric in different shapes and sizes and mold it to the human form. I am inspired by movement more than anything else, so my designs often take on the personality of the wearer.
A California native, I was born to Vietnamese parents who immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War. As a child I was fascinated with American culture, particularly the notion of American heritage and what it meant to be truly American. I obsessed over things like the Deep South, marveling over the ostentatious displays of wealth and costume, especially when it sat next to the stark and simple silhouettes of my parent’s homeland. I loved the contrast between that and rugged American western wear—finding the correlation between society, gender roles, and dress fascinating. Coming from a family that didn’t have the extra money to afford new clothes every year, I’d inherit my brother and fathers’ hand me downs and would be forced to improvise ways to make new ideas out of old clothes.
Fast forward to high school and college, I knew that I wanted to make new things with my hands, but more importantly, I knew that I wanted to make them out of fabric. While completing my womenswear design degree at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, I was taught to look at the world through the lens that I was given, and similar to when I was a child, to take the things that inspired me and mold it into a new idea. I was taught that obsession, in carefully controlled doses, could inspire the most interesting designs. I taught myself that my own obsessions only added value to the design problems that I sought to creatively resolve.
After I graduated from school, I traveled to Paris, France on a year long post grad scholarship program at the illustrious Studio Bercot. There in Paris, I started interning at the atelier of Sandrine Philippe, where I began to experiment more freely with different textures and materials. It was here that I learned to see the potential of everything to be either a tool or a material in my still evolving craft. Yearning for the bright sunny skies of California that I had come to miss, I traveled back to the Bay Area to see what I could make of my skillset and obsessions.
After landing a job at a global fashion company and learning more about the divide between how men and women shop, I began obsessing about a world in which clothing had neither female nor male attributes. Working in the corporate design industry, I saw the potential in wasted yardage that factories tossed aside after a production season. Pairing that with my obsessive desire to create clothing that merged both male and female aspects, Nettle Studios was born.