Meet Cristina Martinez, an up-and-coming fashion designer from Houston, Texas and mother of one. Cristina, still very much a student of fashion, has been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to design several fashion lines, including a private line of her own, BowTiedOnline. She’s currently studying fashion design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. I caught up with Cristina to find out how she got her start in design, the challenges of balancing life as a mother, and her advice for aspiring fashion designers.
How did you get your start in design? Was it a dream of yours or was it something you discovered about yourself later in life?
Before I started designing clothing, I was in college in Las Vegas studying hospitality and working 2 jobs in 2 different hotels. I was extremely busy but somehow always managed to find time to sketch in my quiet moments. It wasn’t until 3 years ago that I decided I could no longer ignore what I was most passionate about. I have been into fashion my entire life and I have been illustrating clothing for as back as I can remember but I don’t think it hit me until a few years ago that I can actually do this. And once I realized that, I dropped everything and completely changed my path. I have no regrets. This is what I HAVE to do.
Where did you learn to sew?
I am self taught up unti this point. I will offically be taking my first sewing class in January of 2012. I basically went out and bought every sewing book I could find on the shelves and sat in front of my machine and forced myself to figure it out. I am still learning today. I continue to try to push my self and make harder garments each time.
You sold your first piece after being contacted on Twitter. Is that when you had your “Aha moment”?
Selling my first piece was definitely an “Aha moment” for me. I had sold pieces to friends and family and had made countless pieces for myself but selling that first piece to a completely stranger was what really did it for me. That feeling I got when I first saw my BowTied skirt on her is why I am still creating today. I want people to use my pieces to express themselves and I won’t stop until that happens.
Its always different. Those who know me best know that my life is everything but routine. One week I may be creating from my home in Houston, Tx and the next from a hotel room in China. You just never know. I literally find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes the inspiration is so strong I skip the whole sketch and go straight to sewing. It just depends on how I feel that day.
In terms of your street style, are you the type of women we see carrying a car seat in 4 inch heels?
Ha! I wish! I don’t know how Kourtney Kardashion does it. I have definitely tried and it was a complete failure. I ALWAYS have flats in my purse at all times. It doesn’t help that I have a 30 pound 1 year old. I hate to admit that my days of wearing 6 inch heels are behind me. I did it while I was pregnant but now that I am actually chasing after this little person…..I just can’t do it anymore. When it comes to my personal style comfort is key. But I am a strong believer in being comfortable and still looking amazing. You will never see me on an airplane in sweats or pajamas (I HATE that). A maxi dress is just as comfortable and looks a whole lot better!
Are you into designer labels?
For my clothing no. Bag and shoes…..definitely.
When you’re wearing original pieces, are you often asked where you get your clothes from?
Yes and I love it! My friends always make fun of me and say that I say “I made it!” before the person even finishes asking me where I got it. Lol. But what can I say….I am proud and it is the highest compliment for me.
When it comes to fashion, what’s your splurge?
Handbags for sure. I am a sucker for a good bag. And they last forever. I have bags that I plan to give to my grandaughters some day.
Do you ever shop at thrift stores? If so, what was your best find?
I do but I always have to revamp whatever it is that I find. I think my best Goodwill find was a simple envelope style clutch that I sewed different vintage buttons all over. I still use it today.
Does motherhood influence your style or the pieces you create?
Absolutely. I have made more maxi dresses in the past year than I have since I started sewing. They are so comfortable. They look like you made an effort and they are easily accessorized. Every mom needs a maxi dress!
Like most women, you wear many hats. You have to take care of home, study, and find time to create. What’s been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?
I think just knowing that I can do it. I somehow always find a way to do it all. These past 2 years especially have been crazy and at the end of the day my family is happy, my line is off to a good start, I am in school, we get to travel all over the world….I am so blessed. I can feel my growth and I feel confident that I can handle anything. That for me, is most rewarding.
You’ve said that your fashion style is more romantic than it is sexy and you like to accentuate the shoulder or collarbone in your designs. Do you think it’s better to leave our “lady lumps” to the imagination?
I have a very small frame so for me, showing my collarbones and shoulders are sexier but please believe, if I had “lady lumps” they would definitely be making appearances!
When you have a dream or goal in mind, often times it helps to look to other people for inspiration to give you that fuel you need when things get overwhelming. I remember Lady Gaga thanking Whitney Houston at the Grammy’s for being her vocal inspiration when she was a little girl. Who do you look to for inspiration?
Beyonce! No, she is not a designer. But she is GREAT. And at the end of the day, that is my ultimate goal. She inspires me to keep reaching and to set goals and then want even more for myself when I meet them. Aside from her, My closest friends are on incredible journeys and its almost impossible to be around them and not be inspired.
How important do you think it is to surround yourself with other creative people?
Its everything. I could go on and on about the people I surround myself with. We are never short on creativity.
What advice can you offer to others who aspire to design?
Keep learning, never get too comfortable, always push to expand your knowledge even when you think you know it all. Be a sponge and soak it all in. And of course stay true to you.
“Sketch pad in my hand, passion in my heart. i sketch, i design, i sew, i create. When life throws you scraps, make a dress. Making my way to fashion greatness.”