We recently met up with former student Michelle Yee hard at work as a Technical Designer with Old Navy’s baby department.
Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): What did you do before Cañada, and what did you hope to achieve by going through the program?
Michelle Yee (MY): After receiving my B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University, I returned to the Bay Area where I began working in fashion. My first job in the industry was at bebe as a Corporate Administrative Assistant and later as a Senior Production Assistant. I then worked as an Assistant Production Manager at Old Navy, followed by contract work at Levi Strauss in several departments including Fabric and Distribution.
While working in Production at bebe and Old Navy, I attended fittings with the Technical Designers which piqued my curiosity in Technical Design/Patternmaking. I love the tactile aspect of it and have always been obsessed with fit. My goal in attending Cañada College was to learn as much as I could about patternmaking, construction and grading so I could eventually become a Technical Designer or Patternmaker.
CFD: Which certificate did you earn at Cañada?
MY: I received a certificate in Theater Costuming in December 2007.
CFD: How did Cañada help you get into your current position?
MY: I’ve been a Technical Designer at Old Navy since August 2008. Besides all of the required courses, I took every patternmaking and construction course offered at the time. Ronda Chaney, Judy Jackson, Mary Lou Lange, Lynda Maynard and Kathleen McCarney were amazing instructors. They had real-world work experience in the fashion industry and they were passionate about teaching. In my daily work I use many skills that I learned at Cañada College such as how to make pattern corrections to achieve a good fit, how to grade different parts of a pattern and how a garment is constructed. My experience at Cañada College was absolutely invaluable.
CFD: What advice do you have for others that are interested in becoming pattern makers?
MY: Learn as much as you can about patternmaking, construction, grading and fabric. I highly recommend doing internships, informational interview or even job-shadowing someone for a day.
CFD: Any additional thoughts.
MY: Attention to detail, good organizational skills and the ability to communicate clearly are valuable assets for a Technical Designer. People are often interested in the fashion industry but aren’t sure exactly what they want to do. Talk to your instructors and classmates. It can help you figure out exactly which path to take and you never know where the next job opportunity may arise. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience that your instructors can share. Your classmates are also a valuable resource. I received so much support and encouragement from my classmates during my job pursuit.