Karla Melendez

New Jersey | Fashion Re-Designer | Reseller

The inspiration to become or pursue any endeavor whether it be a career, hobby, or just an interest in learning more can come from anywhere. For Karla Melendez her journey began in high school during the time in which she was a fan of the ABC series “Ugly Betty” played by actress America Ferrera a highly talented and recognized American actress. Betty Suarez, aka “Ugly Betty” was a young, plain but smart young woman that lands a job at a New York fashion magazine. The series with its swirling world of glamour and glitz was the event that inspired Karla’s career choice. Below is the candid and insightful interview with fashion designer | Karla Melendez.

StitchnPost | Do you recall where you were when you decide to become a fashion designer/re-designer? If so where?

Karla | My decision to pursue a career in fashion started in high school. I was very inspired & utterly obsessed with the show “Ugly Betty”. I loved the colors, fashion, and sharpness of all the characters in the show. I decided to channel my creativity and love for art into an actual career. I didn’t have any experience with sewing, so I decided to pursue Fashion Merchandising at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, but I realized that I made a huge mistake. Fashion Merchandising didn’t even come close to satisfying my creative sweet tooth. I then took a step back and started taking design, art, and sewing classes and eventually transferred to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and was accepted into their design program.

StitchnPost | Why did you choose to be a reseller of fashion?

Karla | Throughout my time interning and working in the industry, I was witness to the amount of unnecessary waste created by fast fashion. Eventually, that became one of the main reasons why I decided to take a step back and evaluate my values and ethics. I love the fashion industry but I refuse to do more harm than good. I want to take a more sustainable approach to not only my career but my life.

StitchnPost | Do you identify as a fashion designer that resells or as a reseller that sells fashion products?

Karla | Where I am now in my business I’m a reseller that sells thrifted fashion. I would like to incorporate more altered garments into my business, but it takes a lot of time and effort. Right now I only have a few items that I’ve altered to sell. I think once I establish a greater audience it will be easier to spend more time on altering garments to sell.

StitchnPost | How did fashion design and resell come to be your career choice?

Karla | Poshmark was the main catalyst of reselling full-time. After college, I had a few items I wanted to sell and it just snowballed from there. I slowly grew my closet part-time and eventually realized I can work toward making this a full-time career. KM

We all have a responsibility | to reduce waste

StitchnPost | How long have you been a small business owner as a reseller in fashion?

Karla | A little over a year.

StitchnPost | What does the term sustainable and eco-friendly fashion mean to you?

Karla | It means we all have a responsibility to take small steps in order to reduce waste in any way we can. To me, it means using vegan makeup and skincare, shopping secondhand, eating less meat, recycling textiles, donating items to non-profits, buying biodegradable items, and shopping at small businesses.

StitchnPost | During this time of Covid-19, how do you keep yourself, safe, motivated, and continue to design?

Karla | I’ve been trying to stay safe by staying home & wearing my mask! I find myself spending a lot of time in nature, sincerely there isn’t much else to do when there’s downtime. My motivation comes from the thrill of finding amazing items in the wild aka thrift stores. I’m very addicted to finding higher-end items with a high resale value for a couple of bucks. It’s honestly such a rush!

StitchnPost | Where do you find most of your finds to redesign?

Karla | I’ve taken a lot of my mom’s old 80’s outfits to re-design, but I find most of my items at local thrift stores. It’s honestly so shocking what people give away. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

StitchnPost | Are your designs created with a small carbon footprint in mind as in environmentally friendly? If so, how do you strive to implement this into your work?

Karla | Yes, I typically try to use items I already own from school or past projects. A lot of times all I need is scissors, thread, sewing machine, and a few hours.

StitchnPost | Where does your inspiration come from when recreating your designs? And is there a specific time of day that you find you are most creative? If so, when?

Karla | My inspiration comes from the actual garment itself. I love the challenge of making something outdated and frumpy into something simple and flattering to the body. I find myself being more creative at night, no time in specific. KM

“Don’t be afraid to take a stand for what you believe in.” Karla

StitchnPost | What would you say is the most challenging about being a reseller of fashion and small business owner?

Karla | The most challenging thing about being a reseller is learning how to not let bumps in the road affect you personally. Just because your business isn’t doing well one month, doesn’t mean you’re any less than your greatest profiting month. Reselling has ups and downs just like anything else. Separating business from ones self is the hardest part.

StitchnPost | Name at least one fashion show or trunk show you have participated in within the last three years that keeps you motivated and interested in looking for that piece to redesign?

Karla | I have not worked a fashion show since college, but one house that keeps me motivated is Carolina Herrera. I adore how elegant and delicate her garments are and I think Wes Gordon is the perfect transition for the brand.

StitchnPost | How would you classify your designs casual chic, bohemian chic, or artsy fashion? Describe how you classify your work.

Karla | I strive toward creating feminine and flattering garments. I love anything beaded or embroidered. I personally think my style is always developing and evolving. I don’t really like putting a label on it. It changes based on what I can find while thrifting!

StitchnPost | What does fashion redesign mean to you and how do you determine success when designing?

Karla | Re-designing and reselling means freedom and freedom of expression. It gives me an opportunity to not only do what I love but also allows me to build something I can make a living off of while creating a sustainable future for myself.

Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to a young aspiring fashion designer or reseller of redesigned fashion wear?

Karla | My advice would be don’t be afraid to take a stand for what you believe in. Just because an industry has worked one way for many years, doesn’t mean you have to work in an environment that doesn’t suit you. You can make the industry work for you based on your values and ethics. Make the industry work for you, not the other way around. Karla | Melendez

New Jersey | Fashion Designer