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Sean Kam

Grad is the Owner and Designer of The Dressmaker LLC

Sean Kam went from the U.S. Coast Guard to Studying Fashion Design at FIDM

Born in Hawaii, Sean Kam served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 11 years. Unsure of his direction after transitioning to the civilian world, he felt lost and discouraged. After discovering FIDM, Sean enrolled in the Fashion Design program at the San Francisco campus. He worked various internships and part-time jobs in the industry before launching his own eco-friendly custom seamster business, The Dressmaker LLC, based in San Diego, California. This is his inspiring story.

Tell us a little about yourself: After graduating McKinley High School in Honolulu in the summer of 2005, I joined the United States Coast Guard and served for 11 years. There’s a drive and sense of camaraderie that gets you through the hard times as you grow. Exiting the military, I faced the dilemma of trying to find direction, which a large number of military service members face when entering the civilian world. We service members have skills to fall back on, but sometimes those skills don't always translate into other career opportunities and it’s not always the same story for each service member. Some of us don’t always feel the same way leaving the military as we did when we entered the military. 

After completing my FIDM degree in 2018, I worked for a year at multiple part-time jobs and unpaid internships simultaneously. During that time, I observed and noted how different businesses operated in their own designated lane and targeted demographic. I studied everything from tax forms to sourcing affordable sustainable materials to create reasonably priced and quality handmade garments. I then founded The Dressmaker LLC. I’m now giving those from working families or less opportunity to go through the experience of a custom design and having a personal seamster. People want to be different, because they are different. I create vintage-inspired garments from fabric remnants, scraps, and end-of-bolt pieces, which guarantees a one-of-a-kind value. 
How do you feel FIDM prepared you for what you are doing now? They really do their best to capture the business angle to set you up for success. I owe most of my determination and resilience to the Career Center in San Francisco. It’s the origin of where the Career Center was started, by the late Ray Garcia. This inspired me to continue to stay involved and connected with the campus to hopefully add to the succession of its students, future students, and alumni. 
What is your biggest goal right now? Through all of this country’s struggles – racial discrimination, a pandemic, and a possible recession – my biggest goal is to be able to afford having least one or two employees at the most. To me, being able to join the job market is a huge marker. 
Anything else you’d like to share? Don't waste your time comparing your learning abilities, interests, career path, or income to another in your desired field of interest. Find out what works for you, in your time and your budget. Always stay driven to succeed and learn more. There is no one dream job end result. Be realistic and the journey will be fun and full of surprises. I chose to go to design school at 29. That's after serving 11 years in the United States Coast Guard. People make life changes all the time. You just need to ask yourself: How much do you want to make a change and are you willing to put the work in?

Please Note: The information contained herein was confirmed at the time of original publication.

Categories:  Fashion Design Alumni Military Veteran