Alumna Ann Malone New Handbag Designer for JustFab and Shoedazzle in Los Angeles
Alumna Ann Malone was just hired at TechStyle where she’ll be designing handbags for JustFab and Shoedazzle, in the Los Angeles area. As a student in the Jewelry Design department, the FIDM Career Center connected her with BCBGMAXAZRIA. After she completed their Jewelry Research and Development internship, they hired her as a Handbag Design Associate. In the few short years since this recent grad transferred to FIDM from Wisconsin, her fashion career has completely taken off. She’s worked for several Los Angeles-based fashion brands and has traveled to China for work. We caught up with her to find out more.
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? Through attending FIDM, I was able to start my career a lot sooner than if I took a more traditional route of a four year degree. Now, at age 27, I have over seven years of design experience. FIDM was a springboard to make fashion industry connections in Los Angeles. As a student, I would regularly go to the Career Center for guidance and look for internship opportunities. The Career Center connected me with a Jewelry Research and Development internship at BCBGMAXAZRIA. This was my first step in the door. Upon completing my internship there, I was hired as a Handbag Design Associate. Without this connection through FIDM, I do not think I would have obtained that first job out of college so easily.
Tell us more about your career: For the past two years, I worked as the lead designer for Emperia Handbags, a design house and manufacturer located in downtown Los Angeles. We sell our line Emperia to many retailers, while also designing private label for Sole Society and countless other brands. I had the opportunity to travel the country to collaborate with some of the most well-known retailers and their buying teams. I also travel to Guangzhou, China to work with overseas factories and source materials. In addition to my role as designer, I contributed to multiple aspects of the process, from product development, to trade shows, sales meetings, and even social media. The ability to learn the multiple aspects of manufacturing is a great benefit of working for a small company!
I’ve also had amazing opportunities to design for companies like Sole Society, Nordstrom and BGBGMAXAZRIA since graduating FIDM. I was recently hired by TechStyle as the Handbag Designer for Fast Fashion and will be designing for JustFab and Shoedazzle. I am so excited for this new venture!
Why did you choose FIDM? I transferred to FIDM after spending my freshman year of college in Wisconsin. I was taking a lot of general art foundation classes but felt directionless at my prior university. I wanted to choose a college in a (warmer) city where I could find a job in the fashion industry afterwards. Los Angeles has such exciting companies and opportunities, especially for accessories!
Tell us about your experience in the Jewelry Design Studio at FIDM: I have such great memories from working in the Jewelry Design Studio at FIDM. Located in the heart of the one of the largest jewelry districts in the world, it was the perfect location to learn the techniques and execute our own jewelry designs. The Jewelry Design Studio has all the equipment and provides all of the tools needed to develop a design portfolio. I still use this portfolio today for interviews. John Ahr, Director of the Jewelry Program, has been such a great mentor to me and the lessons he taught me will stay with me throughout the rest of my career!
Tell us a little about yourself: I started making jewelry and accessories as a little kid. My mom is incredibly creative and supported my interests in fashion. We spent one summer making reversible drawstring backpacks—picking the fabrics, cutting the patterns, and sewing the bags ourselves. I remember going to the bead store at age 10 with her and picking out all of the materials to make jewelry at home. By the time I was 16, I was working at that very bead store and selling my own designs to people I knew and making custom pieces for family and friends. It has always been my dream to be a designer.
Any advice for current FIDM Students? Always ask questions! Sometimes your manager may be hyper-focused on the task at hand and may not be thinking of explaining the process behind it. If you are curious, just ask! I’ve learned so much this way.
What is your biggest goal right now? My biggest goal right now is to grow as a designer and learn as much as I can to continue developing my skill set.
Anything else you’d like to share? Don’t be discouraged if your career path doesn’t pan out according to the timeline you imagined. Be patient and diligent with your work and the right opportunity will arise when it is meant to!
Follow Ann Malone on Instagram @anniemalo. See her designs on @emperiahandbags @justfab @shoedazzle.