We had the good fortune of connecting with Tricia Tanaka and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tricia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting a clothing line was an organic process in my life. Being a self taught designer came out of fun, passion and a lot of trial and error. From a raver that wanted to wear costumes all the time to a young lady exploring New York City’s nightlife it was a natural process.
Fresh out of college, I moved to New York City from LA to work as a graphic designer. After a few month of being there 9/11 happened and I was laid off from my job. I had a lot of free time, and was being invited to a lot of benefits so I started making outfits to wear out since funds were tight. I discovered the garment district and began making clothes. Starting with custom garments for performing artists to friend’s who just wanted something unique. It never dawned on me that this hobby could turn in to something bigger.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Most people view a clothing line as a Business versus an Art. The main challenge for me has been differentiating that. I approach my clothes as an art form and I think that is what makes my line different from most. I do not follow trends, I wanted to create clothes that allowed for reinvention and standing apart from the rest. It is tough going against mainstream fashion, and finding true fashionistas who believe in timeless, well made garments that are unique. I don’t want to compete with disposable clothing. I don’t want to sway from my vision so when a person discovers my line, they are lifers but few and far between. I am trying all different avenues, of how to seek out my base and that is the hardest part.
I do other forms of art that allow for easier sales, for now my clothing will continue to be exclusive and personal. A wise friend said “Don’t make your favorite thing to do your job”. I will always make clothes from my heart.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a native Angeleno, there are so many things that I love about my city. But, my favorite activity in Los Angeles in the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Jazz for 2 full days, featuring young new artist to staples that have been paving the way. The Hollywood Bowl is such a special outdoor venue that allows for you to bring in your own food and beverage. Packing the noshings is my specialty….charcuterie plates, sandwiches, chocolates, cakes and lots of fine red wine. I love the eclectic crowd, everyone is usually 20-30 years older and just having the time of their lives. It’s a contagious feeling!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
David Park was creating a line for Smashbox Cosmetics almost 20 years ago and he took me under his wing and showed me how to manufacture in Los Angeles. It was hands on and I learned a tremendous amount in the 2 years I was with him. All the contractors I’ve worked with to help me build a line, the women who modeled my clothing, the kickstarter community, and every single person who has taken an interest in my art. My family, friends, and boyfriend have allowed me to go at my pace, sometimes about to give up, but they stuck with me and have supported me for many years. I am forever grateful for their support.