We had the good fortune of connecting with Shireen Jamehdor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shireen, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
Literally anything and everything! But to be a little more specific, there are some environments or scenarios that seem to increase inspiration and creativity for me. Here are a few:
I am a bit museum obsessed because museums are such a rich source of inspiration. Any time I travel to a new city, I make a point to visit whatever museums sound interesting, and they aren’t always art museums. In fact, one of my favorite museums is the Musée de l’Armée Invalides (The Army Museum) in Paris, France. It’s incredibly awe-inspiring to see how people created things hundreds of years ago. The extreme attention to detail and skill level it took for them to produce these beautiful artifacts (not to mention the time it took) is something you just don’t see very often in today’s world of fast-paced and mass-produced products. Many of my designs are inspired by specific works from museums and artists all over the world.
I love being exposed to new places and cultures. Out of all the places I’ve traveled to, the most inspiring cities for me have been New York city, Florence, Italy, and Paris, France. New York City is such a melting pot of cultures, so sometimes it almost feels like you’re in another country. The city has this energy about it that I’ve never quite experienced anywhere else in the world. Florence, Italy is an artist’s paradise. I actually felt a bit of an art hangover after visiting some of the museums there because it’s A LOT to take in. There is literally art on every corner (and gelato), and the architecture and scenery are spectacular. Paris might seem a bit cliché to some people, but I absolutely adore that city. I remember my first time visiting and thinking how it was everything I imagined it would be and then some. Not only does it feel like you’re stepping into a fairy tale, but it can also feel like you’re stepping back in time because of the rich history spanning back thousands of years. There are still many places I haven’t been to yet, so it’s exciting to think about what new inspirational adventures await me.
Listening to music inspires me in a very intense way. When I listen to a song, it creates a story in my head (this most often happens with music that has no lyrics), and in many cases, I’ll paint that story onto a canvas. There are some songs that have such a strong emotional effect on me that I’m eager to conceptualize into a piece of art or clothing design. And sometimes it happens the other way around, when I’ll finish a painting and then hear a song that completely captures the story in my art. I listen to a wide variety of genres because every genre has amazing music that can inspire so many creative thoughts.
There are lots of other things that inspire me, like nature, film, literature, etc., but I would say these are my top 3. Inspiration can really come from anywhere. I think people are most likely to be struck by inspiration when they are open-minded. Being open-minded allows you to make unlikely connections that lead to creative and innovative thoughts. And the more creative thoughts you have and act on, the more they will come.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career in fashion started shortly after I graduated from design school. I made the move to Los Angeles from Chicago and have worked for many fashion brands in L.A. and a few in the UK over the last 15 years. I’m a creative at heart, but most of my experience has been as an apparel technical designer. The technical designer’s job is to help make the designer’s vision a reality by providing detailed measurements and construction callouts, as well as fitting the garments on live models to make sure they fit as intended. There’s not a lot of creativity involved with technical design, but having that skillset has made me an even better designer. Without it, I would have never gotten this far with the few resources I started Art Of Uniformity® with. When starting any business, you must get out of your comfort zone and do/learn things out of necessity, usually because you can’t afford to hire anyone else to do it. I’m fortunate that I’m able to design but also bring my designs to life because of my experience as an artist and technical designer. But even as a seasoned apparel professional, it hasn’t been easy to start my own brand. Part of the challenge lies in wanting to operate sustainably. If I had gone the conventional/unsustainable route like most apparel brands do, things probably would have moved a lot faster for me. But after being in this industry for so many years and witnessing the wastefulness and toxicity both in the products and company cultures (trust me, this industry is f*cking awful), I refuse to settle for business as usual. I’ve learned to be very patient in the process (not one of my strong suits) and that there is no such thing as an overnight success, no matter how much social media makes you think there is. To say entrepreneurship is hard is an understatement, but the many trials and errors are necessary for learning and growth, both personally and professionally.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Having lived in L.A. for almost 2 decades now, we definitely wouldn’t be doing anything too touristy! Some of my favorite spots/things to do:
1) Hiking trails–sooo many hiking trails. One easy trail that I like to do early in the morning is Fryman Canyon in Studio City and then head over to Aroma Cafe for breakfast.
2) Beaches–Zuma Beach is great because it’s a little further out than the beaches that most people go to (Manhattan, Santa Monica, Venice), so it’s usually a lot less crowded.
3) Museums–I love the Getty Center and Getty Villa. The views are amazing! And of course, so is the art. The Getty Villa makes me feel like I’m somewhere in Italy.
4) Gardens–The Huntington Library is one of my favorite places to be in nature. There are endless varieties of plants, and it’s a great place to go and take a picnic.
5) Food–Too many good options to list. But these are some of my favorites: Masa in Echo Park for Chicago style deep dish, Chaumont in Beverly Hills for croissants, Salt and Straw (a few locations) for ice cream, Tickle Tree Cafe in La Crescenta for salads, Ve-Station in Sherman Oaks for vegan Thai, Intelligentsia (a few locations) for coffee.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who have encouraged and supported me throughout my life and more specifically throughout my journey as an entrepreneur. Of course, I would not have gotten this far were it not for my parents. My mother has always supported my artistic endeavors, and my father has always encouraged my entrepreneurial aspirations. My friend/associate Martin has been a huge support for me and my brand Art Of Uniformity®️ by helping me with the day-to-day logistics (and frustrations) of starting an apparel label. And my friend, Lisa, for her long-distance love and support and for being such an amazing advocate for my art and brand.