2011 is the year for those with the will, the desire to succeed and acheive total satisfaction. Every month I will be featuring a different artist to expose their work and talent to the world.
The featured artist for January is Wendy Romero.
La E: Tell us what you’re all about.
Wendy Romero: I do a little bit of everything but always in the fashion industry. I have my own clothing line called Frecuencia Modulada. I help other independent designers to create their designs from scratch. From sketches to the pattern to the first sample, all the way to production. I do also sourcing for different companies. I know many manufacturers that they provide different services for the clothing industry.
La E: Where are you from?
Wendy Romero: I am from Guadalajara, Mexico.
La E: What do you design?
Wendy Romero: My design taste is pretty wide. Very wide. I like to pick on a little bit of everything. The way I started my fashion was buying blanks. Then from there cut and paste from vintage dresses. Patch it up with nice prints. Play with big bows. I would have tank tops and I’ll attach only the bottom skirt of a dress and make collections. Out of one vintage dress I will make a collection of 5 or 6 with a solid tee or a dress or a tank top and then add different elements from the original vintage piece. Eventually I opened a clothing store and I designed everything there. I designed shoes. I would buy shoes paint them, put bows on them. Just accessorize the shoes and play with glue, paint, rhinestones, studs, everything I had in front of me. Then I moved on to wholesale. In wholesale I had to be more specific about my designs, it was hard to go one of a kind. So I had to develop my whole full line. I developed around 13 collections. At one point I was at 60 boutiques. I made it to Macy’s and it was too much. A little girl like me couldn’t handle it. It was very stressful, alot of money just going through my hands and I couldn’t deal with it. It was hard, I needed a big team. So then I decided to move on from my clothing line to help other designers and freelance. I design uniforms for restaurants. I’ve done shoes, handbags, jeans, skirts, silk, jersey, cotton, leather, you name it. You need it? I make it happen.
La E: I see also that you have necklaces and different types of accessories.
Wendy Romero: I like to recycle. I make alot of necklaces from scratch, from fabric. I will twist it and put buttons and add chain, ribbon, all different elements from jewelry, earrings. I also like to make gloves. Vintage gloves with a little crochet. Headbands with buttons. Also bracelets. I make things for the hair. Little sticks with feathers, ribbons, buttons. I make broaches too. And headbands with sequin, flapper style. This used to be fabric to make suits and I just recycled it and made a little baggie with some buttons. I did a collection of leather jackets and some of the scraps I used them to make purses.
La E: You mentioned that you have custom made uniforms for different restaurants and companies. What are some of the companies and businesses?
Wendy Romero: I did Republic which is located on La Cienega. I did their cocktail waitress, bartenders, their servers, females and males. I did Suki 7. Its a Japanese restaurant. I did this beautiful jumper with this obi right in the front. And I did El Paisa seafood, always our people. El Paisa is located in Fontana. Its a seafood restaurant so I did a sailor theme. I designed the whole thing. I chose the fabrics, I did the sketches and they approved my design.
La E: When and where was your line Frecuencia Modulada established?
Wendy Romero: I established my line in December 2003. I started it on Melrose, that’s where I opened my store. And then for wholesale, everything started in June 2005.
La E: Where are you currently established?
Wendy Romero: Right now I dont have that many boutiques around anymore because I’m very focused on the production side of it. But I have my clothing line at Virgo which is here in Downtown LA on 9th and Santee. I have it at Katsu which is in Downtown LA. I have it at 600. There is some also in New York Pool which is in New York. Also in Guadalajara, I have it in Felix Boutique. And Hollywood, in Allure.
La E: What inspired your line?
Wendy Romero: I really like to take elements for everything. If I say I get inspired by one thing in particular I’d be lying because seriously, sometimes I’ll be walking down the street and then just by looking at the ground, just the way the concrete looks I’m like “Thats an amazing print”. It gives me ideas to make a line that is architectural, cold, like concrete and cement. One time I got inspired by a boat. My sister has a boat, like this very old school boat. An 1800s antique. I saw it and I loved it. I had this one button that was like the bottom of the boat, gold. 24 karat gold button. And just from this little boat, I made a sailor collection. I called it The Knot Collection. In this period of my life I was going through so much. So my head was like, like I was going crazy. I was going nuts. So Im like, ok I need to design I have this opportunity to go to the tradeshow. At that time I was working with Rojas. Freddy is like my grandfather in fashion. He helped me alot. So I was going through alot and Im like Oh Sailor, I like the boat, I like the gold and Im going nuts, crazy. So I did alot of knots in the collection. I really like the rope. Everything that was going on, that was one of my inspirations.
La E: When did you discover your talent?
Wendy Romero: From what my mom tells me, I was 4 years old and I started sewing my dad’s boxers. You know how the boxers have the little opening, well she says that I used to sew them all thinking they had a hole. So that’s where she tells me my talent started. I’m also very oriented with engineering and architecture. That’s what I actually went to school for. I went for engineering. I did engineering for 5 years. It was easier for me to work with fabrics than metals. Definitely, yeah. I didn’t like all that welding and soulding the metal. Cutting with the plasma. I didn’t like to get dirty. It was way easier to carry a yard of fabric than a sheet of steel. I love it though. The technical side of it, the whole drawing of it, thats what helps me to design. Make my sketches, my patterns. But yeah, I totally like fabrics better than metals. I don’t like to get dirty.
La E: How did you learn or develop your skill?
Wendy Romero: I used to sell furniture to Mexico and I had a partner over there. Her name is Norma. At the time she was going to fashion school and we were doing this whole furniture business selling furniture from Ikea to Mexico. It was amazing. So alot of clothing stores started buying the furniture from us for their clothing stores. Thats how she started to get people in the fashion industry. Then one time when she was here in the states, we were walking on Melrose and our friend Marcelo was like “You guys wanna check out my friend’s store?” And it happens to be that when we walked in there he was one of the buyers that would buy furniture from us for his stores in Mexico. He also opened one here in LA called Blue Demon. So from there I met Diana, which she was like my major inspiration to the clothing. I met her when I started selling jewelry to her. I was making some jewelry and Norma was giving me some jewelry to sell to her and we were just exchanging goods and made a little hobby out of it. Diana started showing me these pieces that were very crazy, fun, uneven sewing like alot of stitches here and there. The sewing machines have all types of different stitching, so I would see a nice piece of fabric with a nice stitch around. She was like “You can totally do this. You’re very creative. Why don’t you do something like this?” So i started with 10 t-shirts. I bought 10 plain t-shirts, I bought a few vintage dresses. I cut them up, I patched them up. And that’s how I started the whole thing, through Blue Demon. Diana was my biggest inspiration. I started with 10 t-shirts and they sold out so we’d make more and they’d keep on selling. Then she was like “go to other stores and try to sell it”. When I had 10 stores carrying my crazy one-of-a-kind messy sewed t-shirts, I decided to open my store. Diana and Miguel really guided me in how to purchase clothing from other designers, whats the trend, go to the tradeshows in Vegas. I started buying clothing for my store. I needed merchandise. I started with a little home sewing machine that my sister gave me for my birthday, it was my birthday present. I beat up the hell out of it. I used it until it couldn’t keep going. It was time for an industrial one.
La E: What has been the most difficult part of your journey?
Wendy Romero: The most difficult has been the wholesale part. To make it, no problem. I can make 1000s in a second. But then to actually promote it right, get the right PR, get in to all the magazines, getting the right promotion. Without promotions you don’t really make it. You just gotta have a good product and right promotions. I was by myself, and you need alot of money. Money always holds us down to make our dreams happen. But it didn’t stop me. I really made it big but when I got bigger I needed more and more and more. The tradeshows are like $8000 for a booth. $2000 to get a cheap little one. So yeah; no team, not having the right tools to expand my business and show it to more people really didn’t help. The sales reps sometimes would take every month their fee and sales were so low that I couldn’t afford it anymore. It came to a point that the economy came down, I couldn’t afford it. It was very hard to get it out there in stores without the proper promotions.
La E: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Wendy Romero: This studio. Having my own office where everything happens here. This is where magic happens. In here we start from scratch, we get out of here, we take the rolls and we make them into a beautiful garment that is hanging in a beautiful store. Just having this space right here, it gives me the opportunity to have a place, a well established place where people will come in, they expose their vision, they expose their designs, and I just make it happen. One of the biggest accomplishments is when I see the designers with their production done and ready to ship it out. When I ship it out thats when I feel like “Ahhh”. I want no returns. Good quality is very important. Having what I have right now. Every little needle in here has been a sweat off my forehead. Alot of effort, time, dedication. Having this studio is my greatest accomplishment and everything that comes with it.
La E: What are your goals for 2011?
Wendy Romero: I’m launching a decor line. I’m doing a cushion line with my girlfriend April. She’s an amazing marketing person, top of the line. I did this pillow for my house cause I really wanted it to accesorize my couch. I had a margarita night at home and I invited some friends over and everyone was in love with my pillows. Everyone was like “Oh my God, I love it. Where did you get it?” and I told them I made it. So for 2011 we want to launch our cushion line which is Mateo Decor. We already have our website, its under construction. So yeah, that’s my next project. That is one, another will be designing for a company called Blue Feather. He is an amazing person, the head designer is Anthony. I’m just co-designing. He’s an angel. I started helping with production and he saw how pizazz I am, my sparkle in how I am in getting things done and how much I know; and my wide taste in clothing. So he invited me to design for him and I’m launching 6 designs with him. When they’re ready I will totally come back and show you.
La E: Anything else you’d like to share?
Wendy Romero: I want to tell everybody that if you want to do something, just go for it and do it. Just do what you really like. There’s no such thing as barriers and if there is one, thank God for it because thats going to give you the strength to actually find the tools to break through or jump over it, make it disappear. Thats what makes you stronger, wiser, and knowledgeable. Always ask. Always ask people. The things that I know is because I asked. I ask all the time. There’s no such thing as a stupid question.