On this week’s Spotlight Series we learn about MollyKate Cline, a fashion designer, photographer and advocate for mental health, anti-suicide and anti-bullying. Her peseverance and talent have taken her far in life…and in fashion! Check it out here…
You’ve done so much at such a young age. When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
It was in second grade, when I was 7 years old, that I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer. I would draw outfits for each of my classmate’s on the backs of my spelling tests, and eventually my teacher started hanging them up around the room. At age 9, I started researching fashion colleges and even wrote a pretend “college essay” to Parsons, and the next year I got my first sewing machine!
You’ve been in several magazines such as J14, Teen Vogue, and Girl’s Life. That is awesome! What was that like?
So humbling! My first feature was in J-14 last September, where I was chosen as “J-14’s Real Girl of the Month”. The spread tells my life story through the impacts of suicide, and how fashion design acts as my escape. The coolest part was that the spread came out on my 18th birthday! I’m also very thankful for Girl’s Life featuring my anti-bullying line, and Teen Vogue for allowing me to write for them about mental health. The best part about being featured in magazines is that it goes beyond fashion design!
You recently showed your collection, Empower Women, at LA fashion week! Can you tell us about that?
Yes! Just this past January I was really inspired by the Women’s March, and it got me thinking about how there really are strength in numbers. I imagined a runway show of women marching down the runway in clothes that made them feel nothing but pure confidence! I debuted the line at DC Fashion Week in February, and then took it to the West Coast for LA Fashion Week in March..where it was very well received and appreciated. I was the youngest designer there, but it felt so natural to me! I felt empowered, empowering other women.
Your work is truly beautiful. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Thank you! I consider myself a very emotional person, and I spend a lot of time by myself and in my feelings. That being said, I draw the majority of my inspiration from my emotions, hardships, and problems I see around me. Once I have a concept in mind, I think ‘How can I find a solution to this?’ and I head over to WGSN, Vogue, or another trend forecasting website and gather inspiration for color stories, textiles, and silhouettes.
You have been through your fair share of hard times in your life. How would you say that has inspired you as a designer?
Before anything negatively impacted my life, I was a little girl with a dream of being a designer. After losing my dad, being adopted, and getting bullied at such a young age, I found a drive inside of me to make becoming a designer, a reality. I struggle finding words to describe it, but I’ve never looked at anything and said ‘That’s impossible’ or “I can’t do that”. I’ve gone through so much that nothing seems unreachable anymore. I like to think that this is just God’s plan for me.
I love your graphic tees and sweatshirts! Can you tell us about your inspiration around the designs and sayings?
Thanks! The idea behind my graphic tee line is unconformity with a humorous approach. I’ve never been considered ‘normal’ and I’ve been bullied my whole life. My favorite saying is “Bucktooth Loser with No Future”, which brings irony and humor to what everybody called me in elementary school. Another design reads, “Not Your Southern Belle”, which touches on not being what others expect you to be. And lastly another favorite design is a play on, “Take Me to Paris”, reading “Take Me to an Art Museum”. Basically saying that I’m just an art nerd who’s not hard to please at all!
How would you say attending college at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) helped you as a designer?
CCAD is without a doubt the place for me! I love Columbus because not only is it my hometown, but it’s #3 in the country for fashion design next to NYC and LA. CCAD’s fashion program has taught me a lot when it comes to the process leading up to making a collection including making mood boards, sketching, and final illustrations. And as a business minor, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about branding myself as a designer. My favorite part about our fashion program is our digital fabric printer, because I love making my own prints!
Where do you see fashion taking you in the next 10 years?
Right now, I’m expected to graduate from fashion school in 3 years. I plan on continuing making seasonal collections and showing at fashion weeks across the country during my time in college. After school, I see myself working for another company until I can work full time for myself. The ultimate goal would be to become an international womenswear designer based in Paris one day. But I leave my future completely in God’s hands to see where He takes me!
Your story is so inspirational, do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Thank you! My advice for aspiring designers would be to stay away from what you imagine people want to see from you, and create something you’re not sure people will like to see. I find that it’s when you steer off the path of social norms in the industry that you truly find yourself. And when you find yourself and your own design style, people will begin to appreciate it!
MollyKate’s story is so inspiring and her talent is undeniable. We know she will go far and we can’t wait to see where she’ll go in the fashion industry! To stay connected follow @mollykatecline and check out her website mollykatecline.com. To learn more about her advocacy work go to The Bullies Reality Foundation to see what they are doing about this very important cause.