Alumni Stories

Lia Larrea

Lia Larrea

Work hard, but also work smart. Lia Larrea , Creative Director Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, 2012 , The Art Institute of California—San Francisco, a campus of Argosy University

Lia Larrea

Owner/Creative Director

Continue to build the company while developing new collections

Describe a typical work day.

I communicate with vendors, factories, photographers, models, or bloggers depending on the project. I am constantly checking my email, updating my team about current and new projects, scheduling meetings, setting goals for the week/month/year, contacting stores, overseeing production, looking for the next event or opportunity for sales and media coverage. It is a combination of various things while being able to be flexible in case anything needs to be taken care of in a moment's notice.

How did your education at The Art Institutes help to prepare you for your career?

It was a place where I was able to explore, test my abilities, make mistakes, improve, meet interesting people, and question myself about my longer term goals. It made me see things about the fashion industry that I liked and did not like, but it made me want it even more.

What is your best advice for students, when the going gets tough?

Ask yourself where you want to be. If it is tough, it's ok, it's always tough before it gets easy; but as long as you keep your goals in mind you will keep you going. Really visualize yourself exactly where you want to be, who you're with, what you're wearing, a specific event...the more detail the better. Visualization helps.

Talk about a challenge or obstacle that you’ve overcome in your career. What was it, how did you solve it, and what did you learn?

Taking a risk towards becoming and doing what I wanted to do. I quit my job and moved to San Francisco on my own to attend art school, making that change tested my limits. It was about having various jobs while making sure I got everything done for class. After graduating and getting my so called "break" which was getting a real full-time designer job, I realized I wanted to focus on building my company. This has been one of toughest things I have ever done. However, those times when I had to work and finish my homework for the next day despite not having enough hours in the day, have taught me a lot about the importance of time management. It doesn't matter how many great ideas you might have, if you don't finish them they will stay as ideas. Work hard, but also work smart.

Explain the level of commitment you’ve needed to excel in your career

I think that there is always room for improvement. From my experience, I feel that when you give more than 100% to anything you do, that is when you feel the most accomplishment.

Talk about how you experience or cultivate a creative environment at work.

What impact do you think you are making?

I am still learning everyday about what works for me. Lately, I think that solving problems is something that has influenced my design. I ask myself many questions as I work. How can I fix that? How can I make it easier for that person to wear this or that? How does it feel with this climate or with this fabric? Why would someone wear this? Why would someone buy this? Why is it different? This has been a challenge that has helped me to design with purpose.

When and how did you experience the benefits of your hard work and determination?

I experience exponential moments of joy when everything feels alright.

For example, when I found I graduated with a 4.0, when I had more than one job offer for a position in fashion, when I made my first sale for my brand, when I got my first production made, when I walked into a store and my designs were on the shelves, when I was featured in the SF Chronicle more than once, when I read my first interview in SOMA Magazine, when I was invited to be part of an international fashion show in Ecuador, when I found out I would have my first ad in SV Magazine, or when I was contacted by Poshmark to be part of their first retail launch of designer brands to their millions of users. Moments like these are what encourage me to strive for the next level.

How do you feel stretched and challenged to keep growing in your profession?

Please cite a specific example.

Building my own brand has been something where I have had to solve and overcome challenges as I go. Now that I am producing collections I am not just trying to differentiate myself in San Francisco, I am competing against brands all over the country/world that are carried in the same stores my brand sells. I am still developing as a company, but I am going up against companies that have been around for a lot longer than I have. In order for me to stay in the game I have to keep growing.